Paris Principles

Graphic: NHRI staff inspecting a prison


The Paris Principles ("Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions") set out the minimum standards required by national human rights institutions to be considered credible and to operate effectively.

A fundamental role of the APF is to support our members, along with new national human rights institutions in the region, to comply with the Paris Principles.

The guidelines were developed at a United Nations meeting held in Paris in 1991, which brought together representatives of national human rights institutions from all parts of the globe to define the core attributes that all new or existing institutions should possess.


Graphic: Flags outside the UN building in Geneva

Paris Principles

The Paris Principles set out the international minimum standards for national human rights institutions


Criteria

The Paris Principles, as they became commonly known, identify six criteria that national human rights institutions should meet in order to be effective, including:


APF Senior Consultant Chris Sidoti describes how the international standards that guide the establishment and operation of national human rights institutions were developed, as well as their ongoing value today.


Accreditation

The Paris Principles provide an agreed basis for assessing the independence and effectiveness of national human rights institutions.

In particular, they are used by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) to determine the international accreditation status of national human rights institutions.

National human rights institutions which are considered to fully comply with the Paris Principles are accredited as "A status", while those that partially comply are accredited as "B status".

"A status" national human rights institutions are allowed to participate in the work and discussion of the United Nations Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

To ensure consistency and to minimise duplication, the APF adopts the accreditation decisions of the ICC to determine whether our members are admitted with "full" or "associate" membership.

Interpretation

Over the past few years, the ICC's Sub-Committee on Accreditation has developed a series of General Observations on the Paris Principles that are intended to:

  • Provide guidance to national human rights institutions as they develop their own processes and mechanisms
  • Assist governments so their national human rights institutions can comply with the standards
  • Guide the Sub-Committee in its accreditation process and when it undertakes special reviews.

There are currently 25 General Observations that address a broad range of issues including competence and responsibilities; independence and pluralism; and methods of operation.


Image credits

  1. NHRI staff inspecting a prison - APF/Michael Power