Regional NHRI Networks and Forums

In connection with the International Coordinating Committee for NHRIs, four primary regional networks covering NHRIs located in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia, as well as separate cross-regional NHRI forums.

Coordinating Committee Regional Networks

The European Group of National Human Rights Institutions has 40 NRHI members and is chaired by a rotation of NHRI members, with the Scottish Human Rights Commission serving as the Group’s Chair for 2012.  The Group’s Chair is responsible for working with the International Coordinating Committee and regional entities like the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to provide technical assistance with creating and strengthening NHRIs in Europe.

The Asia Pacific Form has 15 full members and three associate members.  The Forum’s Secretariat is currently based in Australia.  All NHRI members can “access the full range of APF programs, activities and services,” but only full members can vote on the Forum’s Council’s decisions and make nominations for the Advisory Council of Jurists.  The Forum promotes awareness about the institutions’ role in promoting human rights, as well as providing support directly to NHRIs through training opportunities like staff exchanges and advice on complying with the Paris Principles through regional workshops and specific Guidelines.

The Network of African Human Rights Institutions has 41 members, although 15 of them do not have any accreditation with the Coordinating Committee as of November 2012. The African Network has a stated mission to “support, through national, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, the establishment, strengthening and development of national human rights institutions in order to enable them to more effectively undertake their mandate of human rights monitoring, promotion, protection and advocacy.”  The African Network has five main organs: the General Assembly (comprised of all NHRI members), the Steering Committee, Accreditation Committee, Bureau, and Secretariat.  In support of its members, the African Network organizes conferences for NHRI members to share their knowledge and experiences.

The Network of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Americas has 14 members all with equal rights and abilities to contribute to the Network as members of the General Assembly.  The Network collects annual reports from all members and ‘A’ status members can submit written recommendations and reports to the Organization of American States.

Additional Cross-Regional Forums

Some NHRIs also belong to cross-regional networks, like the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, which is comprised of former and current members of the British Commonwealth, such as Canada and Australia, the current chair.  Similar to other NHRI bodies, the Forum’s mission is to “promote networking, sharing of information, experiences and best practices, encouraging countries to establish Paris Principle-compliant NHRIs, and assisting national institutions to fulfill their mandated activities.”  To this end, the Forum created a Best Practice Guide for member NHRIs. The 2003 Abuja Guidelines on the Relationship between Parliaments, Parliamentarians and Commonwealth National Human Rights Institutions also provide guidance to NHRIs within the Commonwealth that report directly to Parliament and suggest that NHIRs provide regular advice, training on human rights issues for parliamentarians, and advise parliament on effects of legislation on human rights.

NHRI membership in the Arab-European Human Rights Dialogue includes seven NHRIs from the Arab countries and seven from European countries.  The Dialogue also includes six members that are not NHRIs.  The Dialogue’s goal is to “foster and promote understanding between Europe and the Arab world” by creating a process that “fosters mutual development of NHRIs across the Arab and European regions.”   The Dialogue focuses on themes including human rights and counterterrorism measures, discrimination and human rights, and migration and migrant workers.