Human rights regulator retains ‘A status’

Published: 9 May 2024

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has retained its accreditation as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution.  

Some civil society organisations in the UK wrote to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) last year, asking for the EHRC’s accreditation to be reviewed.

The SCA considered the issues raised in detail through its Special Review process.

The issues considered included the EHRC’s advice to the UK government on the definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010; the EHRC’s work to address discrimination against trans people in the UK; the steps the EHRC has taken to strengthen cooperation with civil society organisations working on trans rights; and the EHRC’s internal investigation of complaints by staff.

The SCA has now confirmed to the EHRC that it remains fully compliant with the ‘Paris Principles’, which provide the benchmark for high-performing, independent National Human Rights Institutions.

The decision means that the EHRC retains its independent participation rights at the UN Human Rights Council and remains able to report directly to the United Nations on human rights issues.


Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:  

“We welcome the decision that the EHRC should retain its accreditation as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution. 

“We always believed there were inaccuracies in the submissions made against us. We are pleased that, following a full assessment of all the evidence, the accreditation committee agree that we continue to meet the highest standards.

“As Chairwoman of the EHRC, I am confident that we demonstrate those standards every day, in everything we do.   

“I can reassure all those we work with, and the British public we serve, that we take great pride in our independence from government. But it is important too, to maintain our independence from activist organisations wishing to unduly influence our legal opinions and policy. We routinely demonstrate our impartiality through our willingness to challenge both robustly.

“We also take seriously our obligation to protect and promote equality and human rights for everyone. That includes considering, carefully and impartially and on the basis of evidence, how the rights of one person, or group, might be affected by the rights of another.  

“The role of the referee is not always appreciated, but as the human rights regulator for England and Wales, it is one we accept with steely determination.   

“We may be challenged along the way, but the EHRC will strike the right balance when upholding everyone’s rights. We look forward to continuing to work with all those who help us deliver this duty.”  

Notes to Editors:

  1. The EHRC was last reaccredited with ‘A status’ in 2022, as it had previously been in 2015 and 2008.
  2. National Human Rights Institutions are assessed against the Paris Principles. These require NHRIs:
  • To be competent to promote and protect human rights
  • To have a broad, clear constitutional and legislative mandate
  • To submit advice on human rights issues to government and Parliament
  • To cooperate with the United Nations and other international organisations to protect and promote human rights
  • To promote education of human rights in schools, universities and professional circles
  • To combat all forms of discrimination by increasing public awareness of human rights
  • To ensure plural representation in its appointments
  • To have adequate funding
  • To be independent in its decision-making and operation

There are two levels of accreditation, rating NHRIs' compliance with the Paris Principles:  

  • ‘A’ – fully compliant 
  • ‘B’ – partially compliant 

NHRIs that are non-compliant are graded as 'not accredited'.

  1. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the National Human Rights Institution for England and Wales, with a human rights mandate in Scotland in relation to matters reserved to the UK Parliament. The Scottish Human Rights Commission has a mandate to promote and protect human rights in Scotland that fall within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.