UN Resolutions on national human rights institutions

Each alternate year, the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council pass a respective resolution reaffirming international support for NHRIs and encouraging all States to establish them.

The resolutions welcome and further encourage the participation of NHRIs across UN mechanisms and processes. They also recognize the important and unique role of NHRIs to monitor, advise, promote and protect human rights at the national level.

The resolutions have expressed concern at increasing reports of cases of reprisals and other acts of intimidation against NHRIs, their members and staff as a result of work carried out according to their mandate. They have called on States to investigate these cases and bring perpetrators to justice.

The General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have also welcomed the important role played by GANHRI and regional networks of NHRIs, as well as encouraged the UN Human Rights Office to continue supporting their activities.

The 2019 NHRI resolution, adopted by General Assembly (GA 74/156) reiterated its call for all States to establish and strengthen independent, effective and pluralist NHRIs, in line with the Paris Principles, including as a means to guarantee and accelerate progress for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The establishment of NHRIs in-country and their participation internationally has been continuously supported and further encouraged by the UN Secretary-General in its regular reports on NHRIs[2], as well as in other reports including his SDGs progress reports.

The resolutions are generally adopted with wide, cross-regional co-sponsorship and unanimous support, thereby reflecting broad universal agreement about the importance and value that each State has a strong, effective and Paris Principles-compliant NHRI.

Treaty monitoring bodies have supported these calls, regularly including recommendations to establish or strengthen NHRIs in their concluding observations. Similarly, the Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review also include recommendations for States to establish and strengthen NHRIs in line with the Paris Principles.

2020 resolution

The resolution on NHRIs presented by Australia to the 45th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2020, inter alia, highlights the role and contributions of NHRIs in addressing the human rights impacts of COVID-19 and response and recovery measures.

2021 resolution

The resolution – led by Germany with the support of 88 co-sponsoring States from all regions – highlights the important contribution made by NHRIs to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. For the first time, a specific reference to the participation of NHRIs in meetings of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, is being made 

2022 resolution

The resolution adopted by the 51st UN Human Rights Council welcomed the critical contributions of national human rights institutions in monitoring, reporting and advising governments and other stakeholders on climate action that is based on human rights.

Led by Australia, the resolution highlights the important role of NHRIs in assisting States to adopt effective frameworks to protect the human rights of all individuals, without discrimination, and highlights the particularly vulnerable situations of Indigenous Peoples to the impacts of climate change.

It also encourages all relevant United Nations mechanisms and processes including ECOSOC and HLPF to further enhance NHRIs’ participation in their work and highlights the important contribution of NHRIs in following-up recommendations of UN mechanism and processes.

2023 resolution

The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly has recognised the vital contribution of national human rights institutions to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including by taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The resolution highlights the important role of NHRIs “in monitoring, reporting to and advising government bodies and other stakeholders in relation to climate mitigation and adaptation” and promote implementation of international human rights obligations.

It calls for States to increase the pace with which Paris Principles-compliant NHRIs are established, noting that NHRIs can help States “fast-track vital protection and other services to those left behind”.

The resolution further states that NHRIs should not face reprisals or intimidation for undertaking work in accordance with their mandate. It calls on States to promptly investigate cases of alleged reprisal and intimidation against NHRI members and staff, or those who cooperate with NHRIs.

[1] General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993

[2] Latest report of the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly: https://undocs.org/A/74/226