International Coordinating Committee

The International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (Coordinating Committee) was established in 1993 with a Bureau comprised of one representative NHRI from four primary regions: Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe.  The Coordinating Committee facilitates and supports NHRI engagement with the UN system; fulfilling this mandate in part by coordinating an annual meeting and a biennial conference.

At these gatherings NHRIs are able to share their knowledge on featured topics and engage with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which also serves as the Secretariat of the Coordinating Committee. The Coordinating Committee also holds an NGO forum alongside their annual meeting in order to facilitate NHRI dialogue with civil society.

Moreover the Coordinating Committee may be invited to help governments establish a new NHRI and strengthen existing NHRIs, while the OHCHR also provides a Fellowship Programme for NHRIs. Through the Fellowship Program a NHRI staff member is temporarily seconded to work with OHCHR as a means for learning about the UPR process, the treaty body system, and other aspects of the UN human rights system.

As a central responsibility, of the Coordinating Committee accredits NHRIs to the UN as either ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’ status NHRI, based on the Paris Principles.  NHRIs designated with ‘A’ status have demonstrated a high degree of autonomy and are fully compliant with the Paris Principles.  ‘A’ status NHRIs are eligible to be members of the Coordinating Committee’s Bureau and only ‘A’ status institutions are eligible as one of the four NHRI representatives on its Subcommittee on Accreditation.  ‘B’ status NHRIs are considered not fully compliant with the Paris Principles, and ‘C’ status NHRIs are decidedly non-compliant with the Paris Principles.

Initial status decisions are made by the Subcommittee on Accreditation and may be appealed by an NHRI to the Coordinating Committee’s Chair within 28 days.  The Coordinating Committee further re-evaluates each NHRI’s status every five years, giving the institutions regular opportunities to demonstrate compliance with the Paris Principles.  The Coordinating Committee aims to be transparent, rigorous and detailed in its evaluations, as well as providing specific recommendations for how NHRIs can obtain ‘A’ status.  The Subcommittee on Accreditation also provides General Observations on the Paris Principles to help NHRIs more clearly identify areas for improvement.

As of May 2012, over half of UN member states have NHRIs and more than two-thirds of all NHRIs are accredited with ‘A’ status.

Status Number of NHRIs
A 69
B 22
C 10
Total 101

Source: OHCHR

Notably, several prominent and influential countries still lack an NHRI accredited by the Coordinating Committee; including the United States (though Puerto Rico has a ‘C’ status NHRI), Brazil, and China.  Additionally, many countries in Africa and the Middle East do not have a NHRI.

International Ombudsman Institute

Apart from the Coordinating Committee, the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) is an international organization that provides support to the world’s 150 ombudsman institutions, including ombudsman institutions that monitor and promote human rights.  These institutions receive and address citizens’ complaints about some facet of their country’s public administration.  The IOI has six regional chapters covering Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, and North America.  As part of its mission, the IOI meets with National Human Rights Ombudsmen and conducts research to establish best practices.