UNGA 74 | The crucial work of national human rights institutions in promoting and protecting human rights is recognised

21.11.2019

As the Third Committee comes to an end after an engaging six weeks, an important resolution that draws attention to the work of national human rights institutions in preventing and addressing human rights violations was passed by consensus.

A biannual resolution led by Germany, the resolution on national human rights institutions (NHRIs) recognises their role in preventing and addressing reprisals, protecting human rights defenders and promoting human rights. 

‘We were pleased to see the resolution acknowledge the vital role played by NHRIs in ensuring human rights are protected on the ground by reporting and addressing cases of human rights violations as well as reviewing legislation that affects human rights defenders,’ says ISHR’s Zamzam Mohammed.

New additions to this year’s resolution include:

  • The Marrakesh Declaration: adopted in 2018 during the 13th International Conference of NHRIs, the Declaration notably calls for the protection of human rights defenders from reprisals and promotes the expansion of civil society engagement. 

  • The Belgrade Principles: adopted in 2012, the Principles highlight the relationship and effective cooperation between NHRIs and National Parliaments towards promoting human rights.

Informal negotiations on this resolution saw discussions on the concept of human rights defenders enter this space. Challenges were also made to the inclusion of the term ‘intimidation’ in referring to the role NHRIs play in preventing and addressing cases of ‘intimidation and reprisal’. Strong support for this language by South Africa, Chile, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France ensured it remained.

We welcomed the reference to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), despite its inclusion being challenged. A global alliance of NHRIs, GANHRI represents more than 100 NHRIs and conducts the important role of accrediting NHRIs and ensuring their compliance with the Paris Principles which provide guidelines for NHRIs. 

The resolution was met with strong support by States with a record-breaking 91 States co-sponsoring, the highest number of co-sponsors for the resolution yet. ‘It was encouraging to see so many States show support for the resolution through co-sponsorship, some for the first time. The essential work of NHRIs must remain the forefront of conversations on human rights,’ said Mohammed.

The resolution will now move for final adoption by the UN General Assembly Plenary in December. We encourage States to continue showing support for NHRIs at the national and international level.

Contacts: Zamzam Mohammed,  z.mohammed@ishr.ch. Tess McEvoy, t.mcevoy@ishr.ch

Photo: ISHR

Category:

Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • United Nations
Mechanism
  • UN General Assembly
  • Third Committee of the UN General Assembly