2020 Knowledge Exchange

GANHRI’s 2020 Knowledge Exchange focused on the roles and experience of national human rights institutions to address the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and States’ responses to contain it.

More than 145 participants from all four global regions joined the event and contributed experiences, lessons and promising practices NHRIs have developed in applying their mandates in the context of an unfolding public health emergency.

Since the declaration of the global pandemic in March 2020, NHRIs in all parts of the world have been carrying out a range of activities to address its human rights implications. However, COVID-19 has raised new challenges with respect to how NHRIs carry out their mandate and functions in the midst of a pandemic; for example, fulfilling their investigative and monitoring functions, engaging with Parliament, the Executive, civil society and communities, receiving complaints and being accessible to all members of society.

National human rights institutions around the world have demonstrated their strong commitment to fulfilling their mandate and have taken innovative steps to address this global crisis. The pandemic goes beyond a health crisis; it is also a social and economic crisis.

Freddy Carrión Intriago, GANHRI Chaiperson

The event was held as a conversational roundtable discussion that allowed and encouraged contributions from all participants.

One panel focused on experience-sharing: more than 145 participants – including 56 NHRIs, UN agencies, regional networks and civil society – shared challenges, promising practices, and innovative approaches and methodologies in the context of the health emergency and resulting challenges.


“NHRI India took this challenge as an opportunity to serve mankind by protecting and promoting human rights by issuing various advisories to governments and also try to improve law & order. Online complaint management system has been made fully paperless.”

NHRI India

“The Nigerian Human Rights Commission has had several meetings and sensitization workshops online and only recently offline on human rights of citizens Economic, Social and Cultural rights and also Civil and Political rights.”

NHRI Nigeria

“In Slovenia, the NHRI promoted various safe forms of communication with individuals, in particular through free-phone line, e-mail and regular mail. Until October 2020, the NHRI received in such a manner over 1000 complaints by individuals only related to Covid-19 measures, which is more than 20% of average of yearly received complaints.”

NHRI Slovenia

Conclusion and outcomes

The discussions demonstrated an unprecedented resilience, creativity and adaptability among NHRIs in all regions to continue fulfilling their mandates under restrictive conditions.

NHRIs play a critical role in protecting and promoting human rights of those most at risk in their society. The Knowledge Exchange held during the 2020 Annual Meeting was a success in terms of participation. The quality of the exchanges between NHRIs during and after the event were of great inspiration.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, GANHRI has provided ongoing opportunities for exchange among NHRIs globally, with the aim of promoting and strengthening their mandates.

In order to provide a consolidated overview of good practices, experiences and lessons learned on the role of NHRIs in the context of COVID-19, the Tri-Partite Partnership (UNDP, OHCHR and GANHRI) is currently developing a study on COVID-19 and National Human Rights Institutions.

“The pandemic is a crisis, but like any crisis, an opportunity. This is the time to give relevance to our institutions, to make them fundamental actors in the formulation of public policies, to be key actors when formulating national and regional recovery plans, and to put human rights at the centre of the agenda.”

Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri, GANHRI Secretary

All exchanges and contributions given by NHRIs during the Knowledge Exchange will remain available on the SharePoint site set up for the event. You will also find the recording of the event and all video statements under the “Knowledge Exchange” page. If you wish to access the SharePoint site, please contact webinars@ganhri.org and include your email, NHRI and position.