National human rights institutions: effectiveness and legitimacy (1st ed. 2000; 2nd ed. 2004)
This report examines the degree to which national human rights institutions are successful in carrying out their mandate to promote human rights and protect the rights of citizens. The study assesses how national human rights institutions acquire legitimacy and a reputation for effectiveness. Based on research in three countries, it includes practical recommendations for strengthening their work, and their creation.
Biographical affiliation was accurate when research took place.
Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Research Director, ICHRP, 1998-2004. For more information on this project, please contact Fairouz El Tom, Outreach and Publications Coordinator, ICHRP.
Richard Carver, is the former Head of the Africa Programme at Article 19 (International Centre Against Censorship) and was at the time of the project Research Associate of Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, where he also has taught. He has worked on the staff of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and has served as a consultant to a number of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations. He is the author of books on health and underdevelopment and on the post-independence history of Malawi, as well as chapters in books on impunity and accountability, racism in the media and broadcasting in Africa. He has also written numerous human rights reports and academic articles.
Mercedes V. Contreras, Commissioner, Philippines Commission on Human Rights.
Ian Hamilton, Director, National Institutions Programme, Canadian Human Rights Foundation.
Kamal Hossain, Ph.D., Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
Juan E. Méndez, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
N. Barney Pityana, Ph.D., Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission.
Benny Giay, University of Cenderawasih, Jayapura.
Phil Gunson, independent researcher.
Nii Ashie Kotey, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana.
Hendy Lukito, Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association.
Aída María Noval, independent researcher.
Denny Yomaki, Irian Jaya Environment Foundation.
Access, New Institutions Project, Human Rights Committee (Quarterly journal).
Amnesty International, Indonesia: Paying the Price for “Stability” , ASA 21/12/98, London, February 1998.
Amnesty International, East Timor: Broken Promises. ASA 21/24/98, London, March 1998.
Amnesty International, Mexico: Silencing dissent: The Imprisonment of Brigadier General José Francisco Gallardo Rodríguez, AMR 41/31/97, May 1997.
Amnesty International, Mexico: Under the Shadow of Impunity, AMR 42/02/99, March 1999.
Amnesty International, Mexico: Amnesty International’s concerns regarding torture and ill-treatment in Mexico, AMR 41/17/97, April 1997.
Amnesty International, Mexico: “Disappearances”: a black hole in the protection of human rights, AMR 41/05/98, May 1998.
Amnesty International, National human rights institutions – Amnesty International’s recommendations for effective protection and promotion of human rights, 2001, AI Index: IOR 40/007/2001.
Amnesty International, Proposed Standards for National Human Rights Commissions, IOR 40/01/93, January 1993.
Amnesty International, “India: Submission to the Advisory Committee established to review provisions of the protection of Human Rights Act 1993”.
Amnesty International, Sri Lanka: The Human Rights Commission Bill, ASA 37/25/95, December 1995.
Amnesty International, Bangladesh: Proposed standards for a national human rights commission, ASA 13/03/97, June 1997.
Asian Human Rights Commission/Asian Legal Resource Centre, The Preliminary Meeting on National Human Rights Institutions in Asia – Observations and Recommendations, Hong Kong, March 1996.
Larrakia Declaration, The Conclusions, Recommendations and Decisions of the First Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop of National Human Rights Institutions; Darwin, Australia, 8-10 July 1996.
Concluding Statement of Second Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop of National Human Rights Institutions, New Delhi, 10-12 September 1997.
Sneh Aurora, “Women’s Rights and Human Rights Commissions”, CHRI News, New Delhi, forthcoming.
F.S. Azzam, “Update: The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights” 1998, 20 Human Rights Quarterly 338.
Maggie Beirne, “New Institutions for the Protection of Rights”, seminar paper, Institute for Commonwealth Studies, London, May 1999.
Brian Burdekin, “National Human Rights Commissions – National and International Perspectives”, paper prepared for the Commonwealth Secretariat, n.d.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation, Seminar on Human Rights Education and National Institutions: Proceedings of a Seminar in New Delhi, February 16-17, 1996, 1996.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation, Workshop on Human Rights Education and National Institutions: Proceedings from the Workshop in Jakarta, March 18-21, 1997, 1998.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation, Working with National Human Rights Institutions Overseas: The Role of Canadian Expertise and Resources, Montreal, 1998.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation and Philippines Commission on Human Rights, National Human Rights Institutions at Work: Regional Training Manual, February 1998.
Richard Carver, “Called to Account: how African governments investigate human rights violations”, African Affairs, 1990.
Richard Carver and Paul Hunt, National Human Rights Institutions in Africa, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Banjul, 1991.
Juan Vintro Castells, “The Ombudsman and the Parliamentary Committees on Human Rights in Spain”, International Conference on International Experiences in Institutions of Human Rights Protection, Addis Ababa, May 1998.
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Victoria O.P., A.C, “The Performance of the National Commission for Human Rights in Relation to the Mexican Federal Army”, Mexico City, n.d.
CNDH, International Symposium: The Experience of the Ombudsman Today, Mexico City, 1992.
CNDH, Judicial Ombudsman: International Outlooks, Mexico City, 1996.
CNDH, Foro Nacional sobre Derechos Humanos, Mexico City, 1998.
CNDH, Manual para la calificación de hechos violatorios Derechos Humanos, Mexico City, 1998.
Jean-Paul Costa and Giacinto della Cananca (eds.), Droits de l’homme et administrations publics/Human Rights and Public Administrations, Institut international des sciences administratives, Brussels 1997. (Including Nii Ashie Kotey, “Ghana”, Henri Fourteau, “France”, Hassan Ouazzani Chahdi, “Maroc” and Michelle Falardeau-Ramsey, “The Case of Canada”).
Héctor Fix-Zamudio, Justicia Constitucional, Ombudsman y Derechos Humanos, Mexico City, 1993.
Mario Gomez, “Sri Lanka’s New Human Rights Commission”, 1998, 20 Human Rights Quarterly 281.
Jorge Luis Sierra Guzmán, Rafael Ruiz Harrell, José Baragán, La Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos: Una visión no gubernamental, Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, A.C., Mexico City, 1992.
Ian Hamilton, “The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in the Creation of a Culture of Human Rights”, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman Conference, May 1998.
John Hatchard, The inter-relationship between Commonwealth human rights commissions and other national human rights institutions, 2003.
John Hatchard, National Human Rights Institutions in the Commonwealth: Directory, 3rd ed., London: Human Rights Unit, Commonwealth Secretariat, 1998.
Kamal Hossein, “National Human Rights Institutions and the Fundamental Political Values of the Commonwealth”, Workshop on Managing Human Rights Institutions, Calcutta, June 1997.
John Hucker, “Antidiscrimination Laws in Canada: Human Rights Commissions and the Search for Equality” (1997), 19 Human Rights Quarterly, 547.
John Hucker, “Towards Equal Opportunity in Canada: New Approaches, Mixed Results”, St. Mary’s Law Journal, Vol. 26, No. 3, 1995.
Human Rights Watch, Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Aceh, March 2002.
Human Rights Watch, “Poor Work from Indonesian Rights Commission on Aceh”, press release, 15 March 2002.
Human Rights Watch, Protectors or Pretenders? Government Human Rights Commission in Africa, 2001.
Human Rights Watch/Americas, Implausible Deniability: State Responsibility for Rural Violence in Mexico, New York, 1997.
Human Rights Watch/Asia, The Limits of Openness: Human Rights in Indonesia and East Timor, New York, 1994 (especially pp. 122-135).
E.N.A. Kotey, “Enforcing Fundamental Human Rights – Accessing Legal Aid, FIDA, CHRAJ and The Courts” in E.K. Quarshigah (ed.), The Judicial System and the Protection of Human Rights in Ghana, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Accra 1996, pp 133-179.
Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights, July 1993.
Birgit Lindsnaes, Lone Lindholt, Kristine Yigen (eds.), National Human Rights Institutions, Articles and working papers, Input to the discussions of the establishment and development of the functions of national human rights institutions, Danish Centre for Human Rights, 2000.
Antonio López Ugalde, Miguel Sarre, Alternativas para la recuperación del Ombudsman. Nuevo marco constitucional y legal, Fundación Rafael Preciado Hernández, AC, Mexico City, 1999.
Antonio López Ugalde, “Las limitaciones de la CNDH: entre la falta de autonomía y la simulación”, Bien Común y Gobierno, Año 5, núm 50, Fundación Rafael Preciado Hernández, AC, Mexico City, January 1999.
H.J.A.N. Mensa Bonsu, “Democracy, Good Governance and Accountability: The Role of the Independent Commissions of Ghana”, mimeo, Accra, 1999.
Mike Oquaye, “Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Ghana’s Fourth Republic: the Case of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice” in M. Oquaye (ed.), Democracy and Conflict Resolution in Ghana, Gold-Type Publications, Accra 1995, pp 243-275.
Philippine Human Rights Information Centre (PhilRights), “Human Rights Institutions: Lessons and Prospects”, in Human Rights Forum, Vol. IV, No. 1, : 1994.
N. Barney Pityana, “National Human Rights Institutions at Work: The Case of the South African Human Rights Commission”, Paper presented at a seminar “Human Rights: Their Protection at the National Level”, Belfast, May 1998.
Emilio Rabasa Gamboa, Observation and Effectiveness of Human Rights in Mexico: Juridical Analysis of the CNDH’s Governing Law, CNDH, Mexico City, 1992.
Jessica M. Ramsden Smith, Komnas HAM and the Politics of Human Rights in Indonesia, MA thesis, Australian University, March 1998.
Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos, La CNDH: Impunidad y Tortura, Mexico City, 1997.
Linda C. Reif, (ed.), The International Ombudsman Anthology: Selected Writings from the International Ombudsman Institute, The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999.
Linda C. Reif, “Building Democratic Institutions: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Good Governance and Human Rights Protection”, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 13, 2000.
République française, Premier ministre, National Advisory Commission on Human Rights, Paris, 1998.
Emile Short, “The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Ghana”, mimeo, n.d.
Sarah Spencer, “A Human Rights Commission for the UK?” in The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1999), pp. 25-37.
Sarah Spencer and Ian Bynoe, A Human Rights Commission: The Options for Britain and Northern Ireland, Institute for Public Policy Research, London 1998.
South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, National Human Rights Institutions in the Asia Pacific region, New Delhi, March 1998.
United Nations Centre for Human Rights, National Human Rights Institutions: A Handbook on the Establishment and Strengthening of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Professional Training Series No.4, New York and Geneva: United Nations, 1995.
Wong Kai Shing, The Preliminary Report on National Human Rights Institutions in Asia, Asian Human Rights Commission / Asian Legal Resource Centre, Hong Kong, January 1996.
“A welcome addition to the study of national institutions . . . the best piece I have read on the subject.” Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director, Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
“The report is admirably clear and makes many valuable observations as well as providing much information which has not been readily available before. It will be an extremely useful contribution to the debate on national human rights institutions and one hopes to their development.” Sarah Spencer, Director, Citizenship and Governance Programme, Institute for Public Policy Research, London