The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions

The Forum is a membership body that brings together experts from National Human Rights Institutions across the Commonwealth to share best practice, build partnerships, and work together to advance human rights. We are committed to supporting the establishment of independent National Human Rights Institutions across the Commonwealth, and to strengthening the capacity of every member to be able to protect and uphold rights effectively and safely. 

 

What are National Human Rights Institutions?

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) organise themselves around the Paris Principles which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. These Principles require NHRIs to:
 
Protect human rights, including by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints, mediating conflicts and monitoring activities; and
Promote human rights, through education, outreach, the media, publications, training and capacity building, as well as advising and assisting the Government.
 
Under the Paris Principles, National Human Rights Institutions must meet six criteria: 
 
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 of investigation
 
 
NHRIs are independent of the State. They monitor, report and investigate human rights abuses, advocate for individuals and groups in need of protection, and hold governments accountable to their human rights obligations. They play an important role in educating communities, the public and the State on human rights and engaging the international community in matters which may require advocacy or support from the global community.  
 

The Chair

Every two years, and coordinated with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the chair of the Forum changes hands. The role of the chair is:
  • to support and facilitate information sharing between National Human Rights Institutions;
  • provide robust governance and a strategic direction to the Forum based on issues identified by the membership, and
  • amplify the work of individual NHRIs and provide collective support to influence change.
 
The Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain is the current Chair of the Forum.  
 
 

 


The Terms of Reference of the CFNHRI are available here.