The Paris Principles were developed to provide general guidance to all NHRIs, regardless of their structural model or the particular circumstances in which they operate.
As such, they are broad and may not offer the kind of precision that would be most useful to States and NHRIs in establishing and strengthening institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles.
In order to provide this specific guidance, and to facilitate the practical assessment of NHRI compliance with the Paris Principles, the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) has developed a set of General Observations.
The General Observations are authoritative, interpretative statements that assist in understanding and implementing the Paris Principles. They are an important body of jurisprudence that gives meaning to the content and scope of the Principles.
General Observations are developed – and revised as circumstances demand – by the SCA and approved by the GANHRI Bureau. They are intended to:
- Assist NHRIs develop their own practices and procedures, consistent with the Paris Principles
- Support advocacy with governments to establish or strengthen NHRIs in compliance with the Paris Principles
- Guide the SCA in decisions on accreditation, re-accreditation and special reviews of NHRIs.
NHRIs vary in their structure and functioning – they may be human rights commissions, ombuds institutions, hybrid institutions, consultative and advisory bodies, research institutes and centres, public defenders, or parliamentary advocates.
The General Observations apply to every NHRI, regardless of its structural model.
They are binding on NHRIs seeking accreditation. Where an NHRI falls substantially short of the standards articulated in the General Observations, the SCA may determine that the NHRI is not compliant with the Paris Principles.