Paris Principles 20 years: National human rights institutions as NPMs

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On 20 December the Paris Principles - a set of standards that frame and guide the work of National human rights institutions - mark their 20th anniversary. This provides an important opportunity to reflect on the role of NHRIs, including in the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment.

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are funded by the state but are independent of it – they provide a bridge between civil societies and governments in the implementation of human rights. The Paris Principles frame and guide the work of NHRIs, and provides for their independence, broad human rights mandate, adequate funding, and inclusive and transparent selection and appointment process.

Today there are well over a hundred NHRIs operating around the world, and most of them have been accredited in full compliance with the Paris Principles. They play an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights and have been encouraged to contribute to the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment.

An increasing number of NHRIs are also being designated as National Preventive Mechanisms under the UN torture prevention treaty, OPCAT. There are both advantages and common challenges faced by NHRIs in fulfilling this role. A new APT briefing paper, National human rights institutions as NPMs: opportunities and challenges, takes a closer look at the different types of NHRIs operating as NPMs (ombudsmen, human rights commissions, consultative bodies etc), and the implications for fulfilling the torture prevention mandate.

The OPCAT Database includes more information on NHRIs as NPMs

In this short video, Jeehan Mahmood from the National Human Rights Commission of the Maldives discusses added value of having the NPM within a national human rights institution – especially in times of political unrest.