After the session
The outcome document of an SCA session – the report and recommendations – is a public document posted on the GANHRI website once it is final. This occurs after all NHRIs under review have been informed of the SCA’s recommendations and have been provided with an opportunity to challenge the recommendations in accordance with the SCA’s statutory procedures.
During deliberations, SCA members will decide the accreditation classification they will recommend and what recommendations should be made to the NHRI under review. The Secretariat prepares a draft report following each meeting based on the decisions made by members and circulates it for the review of the members.
On the final day of the SCA session, all members together review the draft SCA report and make final decisions in respect of the issues of concern to be highlighted and the recommendations to be made. All members and observers participate in drafting the report.
All recommendations made by the SCA in its report follow a standard format:
- The particular issue of concern is described
- The requirements of the Paris Principles and the General Observations are outlined
- A recommendation is made as to what the NHRI should do to address the issue of concern.
The recommendations made by the SCA in relation to a particular NHRI are sent by the Secretariat via e-mail to that NHRI as soon as possible following the session.
The SCA may recommend that an NHRI be accredited or re-accredited with ‘A status’, which is described as denoting ‘full compliance’ with the Paris Principles. In reality, no NHRI operates in full compliance with the Paris Principles, and, therefore, recommendations for improvement are always made by the SCA. What ‘A status’ does signal, therefore, is that the issues of concern noted by the SCA are not of sufficient severity to impact the NHRI’s ability to act in an effective and independent manner.
The SCA may recommend that an NHRI be accredited or re-accredited with ‘B-status’, which denotes ‘partial compliance’ with the Paris Principles. However, it should be emphasised that a recommendation of ‘B status’ is not necessarily an indicator that an NHRI is not an effective body.
Most often, a decision to recommend ‘B status’ will be based on a determination that there are multiple issues of concern relating to structure, effectiveness, independence, or a combination of those factors. The SCA has developed a practice of outlining the recommendations made in its report into those that it ‘notes with concern’ which the NHRI should address as a priority and those that it ‘notes’ which the NHRI should address in due course.
At times, the SCA may decide to defer an application rather than make a recommendation on the accreditation status of the NHRI. Generally, this deferral will be for a period of one year, although the period may be longer or shorter in some cases. The period for deferral is limited to two years, except in exceptional circumstances.
Finally, the SCA may recommend that an ‘A status’ NHRI be downgraded to ‘B status’. Where this recommendation is made, the NHRI is given one (1) year to address the issue or issues of concern noted and demonstrate continued compliance with the Paris Principles, in line with the GANHRI statute. The NHRI maintains its status during this time.
In some cases, the SCA may recommend a downgrade where an NHRI applying for re-accreditation has not taken steps to address the issues of concern previously noted by the SCA, and these are, in the view of the SCA, sufficiently serious to impact the NHRI’s ability to act in an effective and independent manner. It is the practice of the SCA to defer the application for re-accreditation prior to recommending a downgrade in order to allow the NHRI to take the necessary steps to address the issues of concern or to provide sufficient justification as to why it is not able to do so.
Procedure for challenging SCA recommendations
Where an NHRI disagrees with the recommendation made by the SCA, it can challenge the recommendation. The GANHRI Bureau is empowered to make the final decision on whether a recommendation made by the SCA is accepted or not.
An NHRI wishing to challenge the SCA’s recommendation can do so by submitting a letter addressed to the GANHRI Chairperson and copied to the Secretariat within 28 days of the date that the recommendation was communicated to the NHRI.
At the end of this 28-day period, the Secretariat will forward to the GANHRI Bureau the recommendations made by the SCA. If the applicant NHRI has not challenged the recommendation of the SCA, the recommendation will be deemed accepted by the Bureau. A member of the Bureau cannot independently initiate a challenge to a recommendation that has not been challenged by the applicant NHRI itself.
If an applicant NHRI submits a challenge within the allotted time, the Secretariat will forward it to Bureau members, along with all relevant material related to the challenge. Bureau members will then have 20 days in which to support the challenge by setting out their reasons for doing so in writing and communicating this to the Secretariat.
If, during this time, at least one Bureau member supports the challenge, the Secretariat will inform the other Bureau members of this, and a further 20-day period will commence during which time other Bureau members may also support the challenge made by the applicant NHRI. If no Bureau member supports the challenge during the initial 20-day period, the recommendation made by the SCA will be deemed to be accepted.