About Us

The Commonwealth Forum

Our vision is for a Commonwealth where human rights are respected, protected and enjoyed.

The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions is a member-led network of human rights institutions, ombudsmen, and public defenders. We protect, promote and advance human rights in our respective countries, from within the Americas and Europe, to Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Through shared expertise and collaboration we’re working to ensure a Commonwealth in which the rights of all our 2.4 billion citizens are respected, protected, and enjoyed.

We are a diverse network with global reach, united by our shared values and aspirations. Our members contribute a wealth of expertise across a wide range of human rights issues, sharing this insight and experience with other members and stakeholders. By providing a united voice on human rights priorities, together we are able to influence the regional and global human rights agenda.

National Human Rights Institutions

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are mandated to protect and promote human rights at a national level. They are independent of governments and civil society and have the task of ensuring international human rights commitments are effectively translated into action, enabling all citizens enjoyment of their rights.
NHRIs differ in how they fulfil their mandate, but broadly these activities include:

  • monitoring and investigating human rights issues;
  • advocating for individuals and groups in need of protection;
  • engaging with UN human rights mechanisms to hold State’s accountable for their human rights record;
  • providing education and awareness-raising to inform the public of their rights;
  • promoting access to justice and legal assistance;
  • providing recommendations to bodies such as governments and businesses to enhance compliance with human rights obligations.

NHRIs work together to tackle global human rights issues and advance international human rights protections.

Paris Principles

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.

The CFNHRI expects all members to strive towards and support each other to achieve full compliance with Paris Principles in the protection and promotion of human rights.

Find out more about the Paris Principles and NHRI Accreditation


Membership of the CFNHRI is open to any National Human Rights Institution or other national accountability mechanisms with a human rights mandate within the Commonwealth.

For information about becoming a member please contact commonwealthforum@cndp.org.rw

Decisions on admitting new members will be made at the CFNHRI’s Annual Meeting.


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