Helen Clark: Speech at the High-Level Briefing on the Partnership to Support National Human Rights Institutions on A Complementary Approach to Working Across the UN Charter for Agenda 2030Feb 27, 2017
UNDP is pleased to be co-hosting this high-level briefing on the partnership we have with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in support of National Human Rights Institutions.
I thank Manuel Gonzàlez Sanz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, for joining us here today. I thank the Permanent Missions co-sponsoring this event – Costa Rica, Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, and Sierra Leone – and also thank them for their support and advocacy for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).
Around the world NHRIs play vital roles in advancing human rights, peace, and sustainable development. These can include:
- guiding and monitoring governments as they implement rights-based policies, draft legislation which is consistent with human rights commitments, and engage in national development planning;
- participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process;
- reporting to national parliaments on the human rights situation in the country;
- raising awareness and issuing reports on specific human rights issues; and
- acting as a bridge between civil society and the state, and thereby ensuring the participation in decision making of marginalized and otherwise excluded groups.
NHRIs have a critical role in promoting and protecting human rights before, during, and following violent conflicts. In fragile contexts, they can help to mitigate tensions and support responses which include the most marginalized people. NHRIs can provide early warnings of trouble, and need to be able to respond quickly where there are serious human rights violations.
After conflicts have ended, NHRIs can play critical roles in monitoring and reporting on the state of human rights, mediating between parties, and training those employed in organs of the state, including in the security sector, on their human rights responsibilities. They may have a role with respect to transitional justice. They may operate in dangerous environments, and face threats of reprisals. Our solidarity is needed to support NHRIs as they face these challenges.
The Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), OHCHR, and UNDP have had a strategic partnership since 2011. We have worked to:
- improve the coherence and effectiveness of UN support for NHRIs around the world. Our efforts have been recognized by the UN Secretary-General and the UN General Assembly as a good practice on how the UN’s development pillar can work with the human rights pillar; and
- promote the role of GANHRI in international fora. This has also been encouraged in recent General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions which refer to the value of the partnership in supporting the role of NHRIs at the national level and GANHRI at the global level.
UNDP is present in some 170 countries and territories. Working closely with other members of UN Country Teams, UNDP is supporting countries to align their national development plans with the SDGs. In this work, the principle in the 2030 Agenda of leaving no one behind is paramount. At national request, UNDP supports the building of strong and responsive national institutions. Our support is founded on principles of national ownership and inclusivity, and is framed by the Charter, conventions, and declarations of the UN.
In more than one hundred countries across all regions, UNDP has provided support to NHRIs. We co-ordinate with OHCHR on how to support and strengthen NHRI capacity.
So far, our joint efforts have co-ordinated capacity assessments and, then, follow up technical assistance to strengthen NHRI capacities. We have identified global and regional methodologies for that work. We have organised cross-regional consultations between Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Arab States Regional NHRI networks, and promoted peer-to-peer transfer of knowledge in the Americas through our capacity assessments in Costa Rica and Honduras.
While we have made important progress in supporting NHRIs with our current partnership, we need to scale-up our support and leverage our complementary mandates to increase our impact.
With enough support, we can do more to strengthen the role of NHRIs in advancing peace, human rights, and development and to achieve more results and impact at the national level.
We look forward to hearing the views of Member States and NHRIs on how we can do more through our joint work to build peaceful and inclusive societies – that is the ultimate aim of our partnership.
Thank you once again to all our supporters for your continued engagement and backing.