What do you think of your National Human Rights Institution?

Do we meet the standard set by the United Nations? An international committee wants to hear your organisation’s views.

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) like the Scottish Human Rights Commission are accredited against a set of principles known as the Paris Principles. A Sub-Committee of the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC) assesses each NHRI every five years to ensure  their effectiveness in promoting and protecting human rights in their country, their independence from Government and other aspects of their work.  

 The Sub-Committee on Accreditation would like to hear from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations as part of this process, by submitting reports by 22 December 2014. These reports will be sent to the Scottish Human Rights Commission to get our comments before our accreditation session in March 2015, and to help inform the Sub-Committee’s own scrutiny process.  

Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Paris Principles provide the international benchmarks against which NHRIs are accredited.

They require NHRIs to:

  • Protect human rights, including by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints, mediating conflicts and monitoring activities;

  • Promote human rights through education, outreach, the media, publications, training and capacity building, as well as advising and assisting the Government and Parliament.

The Paris Principles set out six main criteria that NHRIs are required to meet:

  • Mandate and competence: a broad mandate, based on universal human rights norms and standards;

  • Autonomy from Government;

  • Independence guaranteed by statute or Constitution;

  • Pluralism;

  • Adequate resources; and

  • Adequate powers to promote and protect human rights.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission was created by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 2006 with a broad remit to protect and promote human rights in Scotland.

Since we began working in 2008 we have focused on bringing human rights into people’s lives and creating accountability for human rights protection in our public bodies, our local authorities, our streets, our care homes, hospitals, schools and workplaces. Last December, in partnership with a wide range of organisations,  we launched Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights, which promotes the benefits of a human rights based approach in all the areas which affect people’s lives in Scotland.

As an independent NHRI our work has an important international dimension. We act as a bridge between Scotland and the international human rights system. When we were last accredited by the Sub- Committee we received an ‘A’ status. That ensured that we were able to participate in the work of the ICC, as well as the work of the UN Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms.

Compliance with the Paris Principles is central to our work and we will be aiming to maintain our ‘A’ status at our re-accreditation review in March 2015.

We hope that you will play a part in this important process. The deadline for submissions by NGOs and civil society organisations is 22 December 2014. Please note that your response will be shared with us prior to the session in March 2015 so that we are able to comment on it as part of the accreditation process. For more information you can contact the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by email at: vstefanov@ohchr.org, sshahidzadeh@ohchr.org, nconsultant2@ohchr.orgnfellow4@ohchr.org, nifellow2@ohchr.org and bpesut@ohchr.org.

If anyone would like more information on our areas of work and our responsibilities in order to make a submission to the SCA then please contact us by phone or email.

More information about the accreditation process is also available on the ICC’s website http://nhri.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/ICCAccreditation/Pages/default.aspx