National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are established by governments to promote and protect human rights at country level, but they operate and function independently from government. There are six models of NHRIs: human rights commissions, human rights ombudsman institutions, hybrid institutions, consultative and advisory bodies, institutes and center, and multiple institutions.
The Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, provide a set of core minimum recommendations relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for the projection and promotion of human rights. The International Coordinating Committee of the National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) determines the international accreditation status of the NHRIs. The different classifications for accreditation used by the ICC are:
A: Compliance with the Paris Principles.
B: Observer Status – Not fully in compliance with the Paris Principles or insufficient information provided to make a determination.
C: Non-compliant with the Paris Principles.
(No longer in use is the A(R) Accreditation status: granted where insufficient documentation is submitted to confer A status.)
There are four regional networks of NHRIs:
- the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions,
- the Regional Network of the Americas,
- the Asia-Pacific Forum, and
- the European Group of NHRIs – currently chaired by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and establishing a Secretariat to help coordinate its work.
In 2009, the ICC set up the ICC Working Group on Business and Human Rights, aimed at promoting capacity building, strategic collaboration, advocacy and outreach by NHRIs in the human rights and business area.