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Our role as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

Our role

The United Nations first accredited the Commission as an ‘A’ status National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in 2009. We became Great Britain’s first accredited NHRI and the UK’s second - joining the Northern Ireland Human Rights Institution which was awarded ‘A’ status in 2006. The UN renewed this accreditation in 2015.

We are part of a global network of more than 105 NHRIs that play an important role at both national and international levels. NHRIs are independent bodies established to stand up for those in need of protection and hold governments to account for their human rights obligations. They also help shape laws, policies and attitudes that create stronger, fairer societies.

The Commission had to meet the UN Paris Principles to become an NHRI. These principles set the standards needed for NHRIs to work effectively and remain completely independent.

Why is NHRI status important?

Being an ‘A’ status NHRI is a powerful tool in our drive to embed a strong human rights culture in Britain. It gives us speaking rights at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN treaty bodies and gives us access to the Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights and NHRI networks. This opens up important channels for influencing human rights both in Britain and on the international scene.

‘A’ status is also strong evidence that we operate independent of undue outside influence. That means we can speak with authority, whether we are praising or criticising those in government, public authorities, businesses or other types of organisations.

The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions

The Commission is a member of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), made up of NHRIs from across Europe. ENNHRI's work includes:

  • helping to establish and accredit NHRIs
  • enabling members to share information
  • making members more effective through training and development
  • helping members to influence important decision-making processes, and
  • intervening on legal and policy developments at a European level.

We chair ENNHRI’s Working Group on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Legal Working Group.

Last updated: 03 May 2016