NHRIs adopt global plan to prevent and address torture and other ill-treatment

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across the globe have committed to redouble their efforts to prevent and address torture and other ill-treatment, in response to heightened risks and an escalation in cases worldwide.

More than 85 NHRIs participating in the 14th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 6-8 November 2023, have unanimously adopted the Kyiv-Copenhagen Declaration.

“We are gravely concerned by the ongoing practice of torture and other ill-treatment across all regions of the world, as well as the repercussions that such practices have on access to justice, the effective administration of justice, the rule of law, and civic space,” the Kyiv-Copenhagen Declaration states.

It notes that intersecting global crises – including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing socio-economic inequality, climate emergencies, the inappropriate use of emergency powers and the proliferation of armed conflicts – have contributed to a growing number of cases of torture and other ill-treatment worldwide.

“The prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment must be respected and protected at all times, under all circumstances, and without exception,” the Declaration states.

The Kyiv-Copenhagen Declaration calls on NHRIs to apply their mandate, in line with the Paris Principles, to:

  • Advocate for national legal frameworks and reforms that support the prohibition and the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment, in line with international human rights law
  • Contribute to the effective implementation of these legal frameworks, to bridge the gap between law and practice, including through the fight against impunity and ensuring access to justice
  • Act as control mechanisms against torture, through functions related to cooperation with international and regional bodies, monitoring places of deprivation of liberty, reporting and follow-up on recommendations, and public awareness-raising activities.

The Declaration sets out a range of practical actions that NHRIs will take as part of their promotion, prevention and protection work on torture and other ill-treatment.

NHRIs committed to a victim-centered approach in their work, “that acknowledges the experiences of victims and survivors and the harm suffered, and which seeks redress that is responsive to their needs”.

The Declaration also recognises the role of NHRIs to pay particular attention to uphold the rights of persons experiencing situations of vulnerability, who can face heightened risks of torture and other ill- treatment

GANHRI, its regional networks, and all NHRIs agreed to collaborate in mutual capacity building and sharing of experiences and knowledge to strengthen the work of NHRIs globally to prevent and address torture and other ill-treatment.

The 14th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions conference was co-hosted by GANHRI, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Around 300 participants took part in the three-day gathering, including representatives from NHRIs, UN agencies and leading anti-torture NGOs, as well as international experts.


“The Kyiv-Copenhagen Declaration is a powerful statement of commitment by NHRIs to the communities we serve, especially as we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the Paris Principles,” GANHRI Chairperson Maryam Al-Attiyah said.

“Upholding the right of all people to be free from torture and other ill-treatment is a fundamental duty of NHRIs. In fulfilling this duty, it is vital that we focus on supporting victims and survivors of torture and working with marginalised groups who can be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” Ms Al-Attiyah said.