UN and GANHRI mark ten-year partnership to support national human rights institutions





The UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights highlights the crucial role played by national human rights institutions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, multilateralism, and in addressing and responding to contemporary human rights challenges including discrimination.

UNDP, OHCHR and GANHRI marked ten-years of the Tri-Partite Partnership (TPP) in supporting National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) at the 2021 Annual Review Meeting and Partnership Platform, which took place 5 & 6 October. Over the years, NHRIs have gained a strengthened role in contributing to open civic spaces, dialogue on human rights, and protecting and promoting human rights in challenging contexts.

“NHRIs are being increasingly recognized for their pivotal role on the front lines of multi-dimensional human rights and development challenges. Whether that is addressing the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic; or asserting their monitoring role to provide rights-based advice to governments on implications of climate change; or acting as a bridge between populations often left behind and the state and increasingly the private sector when it comes to business and human rights.” Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director, United Nations Development Programme Crisis Bureau

Representatives of NHRIs, their regional networks, GANHRI, as well as UN agencies gathered virtually at the TPP Annual Review Meeting and Partnership Platform to mark the ten-year partnership by discussing human rights issues in the current context and how best to support and build the capacity of NHRIs to promote and protect human rights.

Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director, United Nations Development Programme Crisis Bureau outlined the new 4-year Strategic Plan of UNDP and the systems approach to support countries deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals by taking a rights-based approach to empowerment, inclusion and to the multidimensional challenges of poverty, climate change and inequality.

NHRIs are also on the front lines of monitoring and supporting rights-based responses to climate change at country level with innovative work ongoing to protect the right to a healthy environment and play their bridging role to support affected populations. NHRIs are therefore key actors in implementing the UN Secretary-General’s Call for Human Rights, which outlines that “the climate emergency threatens the rights and dignity not only of millions of people worldwide but also of people not yet born” and highlights the rights of future generations and specifically climate justice as a key area of support from the UN system.

“Given the special situation of NHRIs, the limit to how we can promote human rights is just our imagination. The challenge of NHRIs is to test boundaries, develop guiding principles into binding treaties.” – Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights, Philippines

During the TPP Annual Review Meeting and Partnership Platform, a virtual knowledge exchange on NHRIs on the frontlines of the of the UN Call to Action for Human Rights – Climate action and the right to a healthy environment, with nearly 200 participants discussed the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, including social, economic, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights.

“Climate action must be undertaken at all levels and by all actors in society. NHRIs and the Tri-Partite Partnership have an important role to play in supporting states to take urgent steps to address climate change and other forms of environmental degradation before it is too late.” – Ilze Brands-Kehris, Assistant-Secretary General, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The TPP since its inception has leveraged the respective mandates, expertise, and operations of its partners – and their regional networks – to jointly support NHRIs around the world. NHRIs in 23 countries have benefitted from joint support through the TPP to date.

In the years ahead, the TPP plans to build upon these successes to bolster support to NHRIs around the world in carrying out their mandate, particularly as demands for their unique contributions rise in urgent and emerging areas such as COVID-19 response and recovery and climate action.

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