Human Rights Systems

In addition to utilizing a human rights-based approach to development, UNDP strengthens national human rights systems, including by providing dedicated support to Member States to protect and promote human rights. UNDP engages with national human rights institutions (NHRIs) as key actors for human rights promotion and protection. NHRIs are independent state institutions that advise the government, the judiciary, parliament as well as security, and law enforcement on human rights, act as a bridge between the state and civil society, and also receive and handle complaints from the general population. NHRIs play a crucial role in bridging accountability gaps, where other justice, oversight, and complaints systems fail, particularly in conflict-affected contexts. Together with our partners, UNDP also supports country-level implementation of Universal Periodic Review and Treaty Body recommendations, by mainstreaming recommendations throughout development planning processes, including justice and security sector reform. UNDP also exercises human rights due diligence in our engagements with non-UN security forces.

A voter excersize taking place for the hearing empaired in Nepal, ensuring that everyone has the right to vote. - © UNDP Nepal

In 2018, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed the ‘important and constructive role played by national human rights institutions (NHRIs), in particular in their advisory capacity to the competent authorities, and their role in preventing, remedying and assisting victims to find remedies to human rights violations and abuses’ and also welcomed efforts to strengthen UN system-wide coordination and support to NHRIs, including through the Tripartite Partnership to support NHRIs (TPP-NHRIs) that exists between UNDP, OHCHR, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).  (HRC 39/17).

Despite their importance, only 39% of Member States have an NHRI that has been reviewed for compliance with internationally agreed standards (the Paris Principles) in 2018. This is also an indicator for progress on the SDGs–a recognition that strong, effective NHRIs have an enabling and catalytic impact on the realization of the SDGs and contribute to building peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.

In an effort to help increase the numbers of compliant NHRIS, the TPP-NHRIs was fully operationalized in 2018, with support from the Government of Norway. The three partners conducted their first joint planning of integrated country support for the African region, aimed at strengthening existing NHRI capacities and supporting Member States in establishing new NHRIs.

In addition, UNDP supported GANHRI to engage in global processes throughout the year, including the negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, where the supportive role of NHRIs is clearly outlined in the negotiated text. In October 2018, UNDP with other actors supported the 13th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions, which brought together NHRIs from over 100 contexts, and experts from diverse disciplines to reflect on and share strategies on the role of NHRIs in expanding civic space and promoting and protecting human rights defenders. The outcome of the conference, the Marrakech Declaration, seeks to strengthen the bridging role of NHRIs with civil society, particularly in contexts with shrinking civic space.