States must ensure NHRIs can freely cooperate with the UN
48th Human Rights Council session – 29 September 2021
States and other actors must respect the independence of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and ensure they can cooperate with the United Nations without intimidation or reprisals, GANHRI Secretary Dr Ali Al-Marri said today in a statement to the Human Rights Council.
This also means providing a “safe and enabling environment” that allows NHRIs to implement their mandate.
During the interactive dialogue with UN Assistant Secretary-General on Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris, GANHRI expressed concern for members and staff of the NHRIs of Guatemala and the Philippines.
As the Assistant Secretary-General stated in her report to the Human Rights Council, individuals from these NHRIs have experienced threats and reprisals for engaging with the United Nations and undertaking work in accordance with their mandate.
“We are deeply alarmed that delays by Congress in Guatemala in the disbursement of the PDH’s budget will adversely impact on the capacity of the PDH to carry out its constitutional mandate,” GANHRI said it in its statement.
“This in turn will have severe impacts on the level of promotion and protection of human rights of the peoples in Guatemala, at a particularly critical time for human rights in the country.”
GANHRI noted that the report of the Assistant Secretary-General “documents worrying trends in all regions of acts of reprisals and intimidation against groups and individuals cooperating or wanting to cooperate with the United Nations”.
“We are particularly concerned about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the ability of human rights defenders and civil society, in particular from national level, to cooperate with the United Nations,” GANHRI said.
“It is critical that the United Nations system, at all times and in particular during crisis, can receive and act upon the unique information that national level actors can bring to its attention.”
To support this engagement, GANHRI has developed a Global Action Plan to build the capacity of NHRIs to monitor civic space and situations of human rights defenders; support the establishment of national protection mechanisms; and promote positive narratives on the work of human rights defenders.
“The Action Plan also responds to the situation of NHRIs under threat and reprisals for carrying out their critical work to protect and promote fundamental rights,” the statement said.
In addition, GANHRI welcomed the landmark decision in February 2021 by the UN Human Rights Committee which reaffirmed the right of NHRIs to share information freely with the UN without reprisal.