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National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are administrative bodies set up in to protect or monitor human rights in a given country. There are some 110 such bodies, not all compliant with the United Nations standards set out in the 1993 Paris Principles. [1]

Such bodies can be grouped together in two broad categories: human rights commissions and ombudsmen. While most ombudsman agencies are built around a single person, human rights commissions are multi-member committees, ideally representative of various social groups and trains of thought. They are sometimes set up to deal with specific issues such as discrimination, although some are bodies with very broad responsibilities. Specialized national institutions exist in many countries to protect the rights of a particular vulnerable group such as ethnic and linguistic minorities, indigenous peoples, children, refugees or women.

However, in general terms national human rights institution have an explicit and specific human rights mandate and often a broader mandate than the classical Ombudsman model, which also could include research, documentation and training and education in human rights issues. [2]

In most countries, a constitution or a human rights act will provide for the establishment of a national human rights institution. The degree of independence of these institutions depends upon national law.

Contents

Human Rights Commissions

Special commissions have been established in many countries to ensure that laws and regulations concerning the protection of human rights are effectively applied. Commissions tend to be composed of members from diverse backgrounds, each with a particular interest, expertise or experience in the field of human rights.

Human rights commissions are concerned primarily with the protection of nationals against discrimination and with the protection of civil liberties and other human rights. Some commissions concern themselves with alleged violations of any rights recognized in the constitution.

One of the most important functions vested in many human rights commissions is to receive and investigate complaints from individuals (and occasionally, from groups) alleging human rights abuses committed in violation of existing national law. While there are considerable differences in the procedures followed by various human rights commissions in the investigation and resolution of complaints, many rely on conciliation or arbitration. It is not unusual for a human rights commission to be granted authority to impose a legally binding outcome on parties to a complaint. If no special tribunal has been established, the commission may be able to transfer unresolved complaints to the normal courts for a final determination.

Another important function of a human rights commission is systematically to review a government's human rights policy in order to detect shortcomings in human rights observance and to suggest ways of improving. This often includes human rights proofing of draft legislation, or policies.

Human rights commissions may also monitor the state's compliance with its own and with international human rights laws and if necessary, recommend changes. The realization of human rights cannot be achieved solely through legislation and administrative arrangements; therefore, commissions are often entrusted with the important responsibility of improving community awareness of human rights.

According to the Paris Principles, the 'National human rights institutions' are obligated to make "preparation of reports on the national situation with regard to human rights in general, and on more specific matters;" and this is mostly done in annual status reports.[3]

Promoting and educating about human rights may involve informing the public about the commission's own functions and purposes; provoking discussion about various important questions in the field of human rights; organizing seminars; holding counselling services and meetings; as well as producing and disseminating human rights publications.

National human rights institutions

Algeria
National Human Rights Commission of Algeria
Afghanistan
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
Australia
Australian Human Rights Commission
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Burkina Faso
National Human Rights Commission of Burkina Faso
Cameroon
National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms
Canada
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Chad
Chad National Human Rights Commission
Colombia
Ombudsman's Office of Colombia
Denmark
Danish Institute for Human Rights
Egypt
National Council for Human Rights (Egypt)
Ghana
Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice CHRAJ
Greece
National Human Rights Commission (Greece)
India
National Human Rights Commission (India)
Indonesia
National Human Rights Commission (Indonesia)
Ireland
Irish Human Rights Commission
Kenya
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Korea, Republic of
National Human Rights Commission of Korea
Malaysia
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Mauritius
National Human Rights Commission (Mauritius)
Mexico
National Human Rights Commission (Mexico)
Mongolia
National Human Rights Commission (Mongolia)
Nepal
National Human Rights Commission (Nepal)
New Zealand
New Zealand Human Rights Commission
Nigeria
National Human Rights Commission (Nigeria)
Northern Ireland (UK)
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Peru
Defensoría del Pueblo - Ombudsman (Peru)
Scotland
Scottish Human Rights Commission
Sri Lanka
National Human Rights Commission (Sri Lanka)
Thailand
National Human Rights Commission (Thailand)
Uganda
Uganda Human Rights Commission
Tanzania
Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance
United States
United States Commission on Civil Rights

Regional bodies

African National Human Rights Institutions (SANHRI)

Asia Pacific Forum (APF) of National Human Rights Institutions

European group of National Institutions

Network of National Institutions in the Americas

Sub-national human rights institutions

Ontario (Canada)
Ontario Human Rights Commission

Notes

  1. ^ National Human Rights Institutions Forum is the official portal for the National Human Rights Institutions and shows a list of 119 institutions that can be found at here
  2. ^ [ Birgit Lindsnaes, Lone Lindholt, Kristine Yigen (eds.). (2001) National Human Rights Institutions, Articles and working papers, Input to the discussions of the establishment and development of the functions of national human rights institutions The Danish Institute for Human Rights.] Find book here
  3. ^ [Paris Principles] that can be found at here

See also

Further reading

External links

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