GANHRI 2020 Annual report: A year in review 



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on individuals and communities across the globe. Millions have faced situations of extreme vulnerability. Human rights have never been more precarious.

From the very start, NHRIs have played a vital and constructive role: to support health planning, implementation and prevention efforts; to defend those most at risk of human rights violations; to counter social conflict and xenophobia; and to be strong advocates for the rule of law, consistent with international human rights standards.  

Our priority has been to provide practical support to our members when they have most needed it. We redesigned our projects in line with our new Strategic Plan to deliver a comprehensive, integrated and high-quality suite of activities to assist our members respond to the complex demands of upholding human rights during a pandemic. 

Our 2020 Annual Report highlights what we achieved together to promote and protect human rights across the globe. 



Supporting NHRIs during COVID-19

We organised a series of webinars and other online activities to support NHRIs respond to the pandemic. We also established an online community of practice on human rights and COVID-19. Through our Tripartite Partnership with OHCHR and UNDP, we conducted a global study of NHRI responses to COVID-19. We also published a compilation of good practices. 

Strengthening our membership

GANHRI’s membership includes 117 NHRIs from all four regions: 84 ‘A status’ NHRIs and 33 ‘B status’ NHRIs. We held our first virtual session of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation from 7-18 December 2020, with recommendations made to 13 NHRIs. One new NHRI was accredited with ‘A status’ and three NHRIs were upgraded to ‘A status’.  

Protecting NHRIs under threat 

Threats, reprisals and other acts of intimidation against NHRIs in all regions have been increasing in their number and intensity. We act strategically to protect NHRIs under threat, in close coordination with the concerned NHRI, the regional NHRI network, UN partners and others. During 2020, we supported a number of NHRIs – including Afghanistan, Bolivia, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, the Philippines and Poland – with actions to uphold their independence and help prevent further attacks. 

First-ever virtual annual meeting 

More than 300 participants met online for our Annual Meeting, held on 3-4 December 2020. During the meeting, our members:  

  • Formally adopted the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan  
  • Shared their efforts to safeguard human rights during COVID-19, as part of a Knowledge Exchange session 
  • Developed a forward-looking Statement to guide individual and collective actions on climate change and agreed to establish a caucus group to develop and lead our engagement with international mechanisms. 

Collaborating to protect human rights defenders 

We began developing Global Action Plan to support NHRIs implement the Marrakech Declaration – adopted in 2018 – and support their work with human rights defenders. The Global Action Plan will complement action plans being developed by the four regional NHRI networks, as part of the NHRI.EU capacity building project. 

Promoting NHRI contributions to the UN 

During 2020, GANHRI delivered nine statements to the Human Rights Council on a wide range of themes including: COVID-19 and its impact on human rights; the situation of human rights defenders; human rights and the environment; and business and human rights. 

We assisted 40 NHRIs to deliver statements to the Council, as well as statements by the GANHRI Working Group on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the GANHRI Working Group on Ageing. We also assisted around 50 members to engage with human rights treaty bodies, either with direct support or through our assistance to OHCHR. This support including advising NHRIs of the new working methods adopted for online meetings. 

Advocating for NHRIs 

We advocated for a strong resolution on NHRIs, adopted by consensus by the Human Rights Council in September 2020. The resolution highlighted the vital contribution made by NHRIs to uphold human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic and called on States to support their NHRIs in these efforts. It also urged States to make greater efforts to investigate and respond to reprisals against NHRIs and those who cooperate with them. 

Sharing NHRI expertise

We provided ongoing to support for GANHRI’s four working groups on ageing, people with disabilities, business and human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals. We also helped share NHRI expertise with a wide range of partners and stakeholders, including: 

  • UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights  
  • UN Network on Migration
  • UN mechanisms in support of the Sustainable Development Goals 
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency 
  • Special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, including the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. 

Strengthening how we connect 

We developed new ways to connect online with our members, across regions and across languages, as part of our new communications strategy. We also launched a process to drive our digital transformation and streamline our knowledge management. We continued to build a content-rich website and strengthened our presence on social media. 

Prudent financial management 

GANHRI ended 2020 in a sound financial position. There was a significant reduction in expenditure in response to COVID-19 restrictions. We are grateful for the support and cooperation of our donors as we made necessary adjustments to continue implementing our projects during the pandemic. 

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