Responsibilities of NHRIs: Providing advice

Providing human rights advice to the government, parliament and other stakeholders is a core responsibility of a national human rights institution (NHRI).

As the Paris Principles set out, an NHRI should have a mandate:

“To submit to the Government, Parliament and any other competent body, on an advisory basis either at the request of the authorities concerned or through the exercise of its power to hear a matter without higher referral, opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports on any matters concerning the promotion and protection of human rights”.

Through their advice, NHRIs provide concrete recommendations to ensure national laws, policies and practices comply with international human rights standards and operate in a way that will help improve a particular human rights situation.

Preparing advice

NHRIs prepare advice on a wide range of issues. It might relate to a specific situation, event or location, or it might concern an issue involving broader civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights.

The advice may consider the human rights impact of an existing or proposed law, policy or programme. It may relate to the impact of government or private or civil society organisations on the human rights of all members of the community or in relation to specific groups within the community, such as women, children, indigenous peoples or people with disabilities.

An NHRI will generally develop advice on a human rights issue:

  • At the request of the parliament, the government, a court or another State institution
  • In response to or following investigation of a complaint it has received
  • On its own initiative (suo motu) in response to an issue brought to its attention.

The advice prepared by the NHRIs may include an analysis of the human rights issue or situation, as well as its findings and recommendations to address or prevent human rights violations.

NHRIs should advocate for the recommendations they make in their advice, as well as monitor and report on its implementation.

GANHRI also urges NHRIs to “publicise detailed information on the measures taken or not taken by public authorities in implementing specific recommendations or decisions” (Sub-Committee on Accreditation, General Observations 1.6.). This information could, for example, be included in the NHRI’s annual report, published on its website, distributed to the media or shared with civil society.

Regular monitoring by an NHRI increases transparency and accountability in the implementation process. It is also a powerful advocacy tool that can increase pressure on the recipients to implement the recommendations included in the advice.

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