What are the Paris Principles?
Endorsed in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Paris Principles set out six main criteria by which NHRIs must abide. By delineating the overarching competencies, responsibilities, composition and methods of operation, these principles ensure that NHRIs can effectively promote and protect human rights in accordance with their respective mandates.
The Paris Principles state that:
1) Mandate and Competence: NHRIs should be given mandates that are as broad as possible.
These mandates shall be clearly set forth in a constitutional or legislative text, specifying each institution’s composition and sphere of competence.
2) Autonomy from Government: NHRIs should have infrastructures suited to the smooth conduct of their activities in a manner that preserves their independence from government.
3) Independence Guaranteed by Statute or Constitution: Just as a NHRI’s mandate and competence must be clearly set forth in a constitutional or legislative text, so too must its independence from government.
5) Adequate Resources: NHRIs must be provided with adequate resources and funding for the fulfilment of their mandates while still preserving autonomy from government.
6) Adequate Powers for Promoting and Protecting Human Rights: Within the framework of its operation, NHRIs shall possess the powers necessary to freely consider, pursue and address any questions falling within its competence, whether these have been submitted by the government or taken up by the institution without referral to a higher authority.
4) Pluralism: The composition of a NHRI and the appointment of its members shall be established in accordance with a procedure which affords all necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralist representation of the social forces involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.