ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan (NCHR) on Saturday was accredited as an A-status National Human Rights Institution by the UN-linked Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), the largest network of national human rights institutions in the world.

GANHRI conducted reviews of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to determine if they operated in accordance with the UN principles on national institutions, commonly known as the Paris Principles. These principles set the standards to which commissions must comply in order to be considered credible internationally and operate effectively. When a commission proved its compliance with the Paris Principles, it could seek accreditation and become part of the global network known as GANHRI.

In a statement, NCHR said despite it being extremely rare for commissions to attain A-status in the first round, NCHR had been accredited with the highest grade in its first try. It was also the only country to have attained new A-status in this year’s session.

“This status granted NCHR a seat at the Human Rights Council and other UN bodies - a historic first for Pakistan.”

Status grants NCHR a seat in Human Rights Council, other UN bodies, says statements

In the past, Pakistan’s commission could only act as an observer but now it would get a voice at the table. NCHR Pakistan joined the ranks of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, France and others as an A-status NHRI.

NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha said, “NCHR is proud to have secured accreditation as an A-status institution and we thank our members, team, civil and international partners such as UNDP for their support.”

The application process consisted of a lengthy 125-page report regarding NCHR’s establishment, independence, composition, organisational infrastructure, working methods, mandate and quasi-judicial functions. Additionally, the NCHR team was interviewed by a committee comprising over 25 members and select chairpersons of accredited commissions throughout the world. The committee on accreditation was chaired by New Zealand and included a member of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, GANHRI and Asia Pacific Forum (APF) and representatives from the NHRIs of South Africa, Greece, Croatia and Honduras.

The statement said this milestone positioned Pakistan’s NCHR in a global alliance of quality and world-class commissions. It allowed NCHR to speak at the UN Human Rights Council and other global forums to present Pakistan’s cases for human rights. Its voice was strategic for financial concessions to Pakistan such as GSP+, FATF and IMF.

In Pakistan’s recent review at the Universal Periodic Report, 18 countries recommended an independent functioning of NCHR.

“Today, its A-status accreditation affirms globally that Pakistan is taking human rights institutions seriously as per international commitments,” said the statement.

“NCHR boasted a long list of achievements in its short tenure of two years. The accreditation report on NCHR acknowledges its work in human rights, numerous investigations, substantive research into a multitude of human rights issues and its advocacy for new legislation as well as its feedback on draft laws.

The GANHRI report reiterated that the government must continue to allow NCHR its independence and allocate sufficient funds to enhance its effectiveness.”

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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