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Principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution, No. 48/134 of 4 March 1994

Duties and Responsibilities

1- The national institution is concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights.

2- The national institution shall have a mandate as wide as possible, and it is expressly stipulated in one of the constitutional or legislative texts that determine its formation and the scope of its competencies.

The national institution shall have, inter alia, the following responsibilities:

(a) Submits, on an advisory basis, fatwas, recommendations, proposals, and reports to the government, parliament, or any other competent organ, either at the request of the authorities concerned or by using their right to hear any issue without a referral from a higher body, on all matters relating to the promotion of human rights and protecting it. The national institution may decide to publish these fatwas, recommendations, proposals, and reports, as well as all initiatives taken by the national institution, which include the following areas: 

“1” All legislative and administrative provisions as well as provisions related to judicial organisations aimed at preserving and expanding the protection of human rights. In this regard, the national institution studies the legislation and administrative texts in force, as well as draft laws and proposals, and makes recommendations it deems appropriate to ensure the consistency of these texts with the basic principles of human rights. It recommends, if necessary, the adoption of new legislation or the amendment of existing legislation, by adopting or modifying administrative measures;

“2” Any case of human rights violation it decides to deal with;

 “3” Prepares reports on the national human rights situation in general, and on more specific issues; 

“4” Draws the government's attention to cases of human rights violations in any part of the country, submits to its proposals regarding initiatives to put an end to such cases, and, where appropriate, expresses an opinion on the government's position and response.

 (b) Promotes and ensures harmonization of national legislation, regulations, and practices with international human rights instruments to which the country is a party and works towards their effective implementation.

(c) Encourages ratification of or accession to the mentioned instruments and ensures their implementation.

d) Contributes to the preparation of reports that countries should submit to United Nations bodies and committees as well as to regional institutions, in implementation of its treaty obligations and, where appropriate, expresses an opinion on the matter with due respect for its independence.

(e) Cooperates with the United Nations and all other organisations of the United Nations system, regional institutions, and national institutions in other countries in the areas of promotion and protection of human rights;

(f) Assists in the preparation of programs related to human rights teaching and research, and participates in their implementation in schools, universities, and professional circles.

(g) Publicizes human rights and efforts to combat all forms of discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, by raising public awareness, in particular through information and education, and by using all devices of the press.


Formation and Guarantees of Independence and Pluralism

1- The composition of the national institution and the appointment of its members, whether by election or not, should be in accordance with procedures that provide the necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralistic representation of the social forces (in civil society) concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular with powers that allow for the establishment of effective cooperation with the following bodies: or with the participation of its representatives:

(a) Non-governmental organisations concerned with human rights and efforts to combat racial discrimination, trade unions, and relevant social and professional organisations, such as associations of jurists, doctors, journalists, and eminent scholars; (b) Streams in philosophical and religious thought

(c) Universities and qualified experts;

(d) Parliament;

(E) Government departments (and in the event of its accession, its representatives shall not participate in the deliberations except in an advisory capacity).

2-The national institution should have the appropriate infrastructure for the smooth running of its activities, in particular sufficient funds for this, and the purpose of these funds should be to enable it to manage its employees and workplaces to be independent of the government and not be subject to financial control that may affect its independence. 

3- In order to ensure the stability of the mandate of the members of the national institution, which would not be a truly independent institution otherwise, their appointment should be by an official decision specifying the specific term of their mandate. The mandate is renewable, provided that pluralism in the institution's membership is ensured.


Working Methods

Within the framework of its work, the national institution should undertake the following:

(a) Examines freely all matters within its competence, whether submitted by the government or decided to take them up without being referred to it by a higher authority, on the proposal of its members or any other petitioner;

(b) Listens to any person and obtains any information and any documents necessary for the assessment of cases within its competence;

 (c) Addresses public opinion directly or through a press device, particularly to publicise its views and recommendations;

(d) Holds meetings on a regular basis and, when necessary, in the presence of all its members who are invited to attend in accordance with established rules;

(e) Forms working groups from among its members, as appropriate, and establishes local and regional branches to assist it in carrying out its tasks; (f) Holds consultations with other bodies, judicial or otherwise, responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights (in particular ombudsmen, conciliators, and similar institutions);

 (g) Deliberates, in view of the essential role of non-governmental organisations in expanding the scope of the work of national institutions, to establish relationships with non-governmental organisations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, economic and social development, combating racism and to the protection of particularly vulnerable groups (in particular children, migrant workers, refugees, and the physically and mentally disabled), or for specialised fields


Additional principles regarding the status of commissions with quasi-judicial specializations

The national institution may be empowered to receive and consider complaints and petitions relating to individual cases. Cases may be brought before it by individuals, their representatives, third parties, NGOs, associations, trade unions, or other representative bodies. In those circumstances, and without prejudice to the principles set forth above relating to the other competencies of the committees, the tasks assigned to them may be based on the following principles:

 (a) Seeking amicable settlement by conciliation or, within legally established limits, by means of binding decisions, or, where appropriate, by recourse to confidentiality;

(b) Informing the petitioner of his rights, in particular of the remedies available to him, and facilitating his access to them;

 (c) Hearing any complaints or petitions or referring them to any other competent authority within the limits established by law;

(d) Providing recommendations to the competent authorities, in particular by proposing amendments or reforms to laws, regulations, and administrative practices, especially when they are the source of the penalties that petitioners face to assert their rights