2021 Knowledge Exchange
GANHRI’s 2021 Knowledge Exchange was an inclusive platform for all NHRIs to learn from experiences and good challenges put in place in all regions to address the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 150 participants joined the event and shared advice and recommendations with peer NHRIs on next steps to take to contain the challenges in the context of the health emergency.
The recently released TPP study, COVID-19 and National Human Rights Institutions, demonstrated that NHRIs from all regions have quickly adapted and developed promising practices to address the human rights impacts of the pandemic and those resulting from actions by States to contain it.
The Knowledge Exchange was an opportunity for our members, from all four regions to meet and exchange in an inclusive, participatory and stimulating environment. More than 150 participants including NHRIs, UN agencies and Regional Networks were divided in small working groups where the discussion were encouraged around three leading questions based on the interests and experiences of participants:
- What has been your NHRI’s major achievement in the past year? Please share how you have applied your mandate and functions, describe the impact on human rights you have had, and the lessons you have learned.
- What has been the main challenge/s your NHRI has faced in the past year? How have you sought to address these challenges?
- Forward looking: What advice or guidance would you share with peer NHRIs? What advice would you welcome receiving? What would you suggest recommending as next steps?
The exchanges revealed that some of the achievements attained by NHRIs in all regions were:
- Strong monitoring during lockdown
- Regular meetings and cooperation with government and CSOs
- Special focus on groups at risk: Women, children, people with disabilities and older persons
“We recently released a detailed report on the situation of HR in the context of COVID-19 which included an analysis on twenty-two thematic areas, a HR focus on six vulnerable groups and twenty-three recommendations to Parliament and Government to advance the HR agenda” – NHRI Morocco
“We developed a common directory with the civil society associations active in the country to monitor the HR vulnerabilities” – NHRI Tunisia
The main challenges faced during the pandemic were:
- Raise in human rights violations – gender related violence and minority groups discrimination
- Difficulties in conducting monitoring functions (visits to detention places)
- Shifting all work online
“We faced a raise in many human rights violations during the lockdown but in particular those related to gender-based violence” – NHRI Kenya
“We faced difficulties in fulfilling our monitoring mandate, but we shared leaflets with citizens on the new online complaints procedures” – NHRI Palestine
And finally, the main advice and recommendations shared by NHRIs on next step to take are:
- Increase engagement with international Human rights system through online activities
- Strengthen vaccine advocacy campaign
- Focus on vulnerable groups
“It is important to increase our presence at the international level and the pandemic helped us doing so online, but we have to keep engaging with international actors in the HR system” – NHRI Philippines
“With the help of UNHCR, we have set small offices that help migrants (especially Venezuelan migrants). We have also set mechanisms to help women and tackle gender-based violence” – NHRI Colombia
The format of the event allowed significant opportunities for NHRIs to share their experiences with peer and partners on COVID-19 responses. The exchanges allowed NHRIs to collect best practices and advice from peers on how to address the human rights implications of the pandemic by identifying new opportunities for strengthening existing relationships, and build new ones, with peer NHRIs.
GANHRI has been supporting its NHRI members since the outbreak of the pandemic and it recently released a study commissioned with UNDP and OHCHR on a broad analysis of good practices, experiences and lessons learned pertaining to NHRIs and their response to COVID-19.
The findings show that NHRIs responded unanimously by shifting their efforts to areas of human rights directly affected by COVID-19 and government response. The study conclusively demonstrates the importance of NHRIs during the global crisis.
Moving forward, it is essential for State to empower existing NHRIs in accordance with the Paris Principles and GANHRI with its partners will continue providing opportunities for exchange to allow NHRIs to work effectively and grow from their experiences with COVID-19.
GANHRI plays a unique role in bringing NHRIs together at a global level, to share their expertise and experiences, and to identify collectively what implementing the Paris Principles means in practiceKatharina Rose GANHRI Geneva Representative