The Role of National Human Rights Systems in the Implementation of International Human Rights Standards and Recommendations

Started in March 2020

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The proliferation of United Nations (UN) and regional human rights mechanisms demands a systemic study of their national dynamics and effects, as states struggle to keep up with their reporting obligations and the implementation of a growing number of recommendations.

In addition, UN and regional human rights systems often overlap in scope, whilst not prescribing strict measures of implementation.

This entails that all domestic actors (governmental actors, independent state actors, and non-state actors) have multiple roles to play in relation to the implementation of international human rights norms and recommendations.

Improving the system at the international level – notably via the UN Treaty Body Review 2020 – constitutes therefore only one side of the coin.
We also need to understand whether the international human rights system may benefit from improved coordination and leveraging of synergies at the national level.

Objectives

This project aims to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the strengths and weaknesses affecting different National Human Rights Systems (NHRSs). As such, this project trails the impact of international human rights recommendations by focusing on national monitoring and implementation strategies.

Firmly grounded on Sustainable Development Goal 16, it relies on the underlying assumption that in the absence of a receptive domestic human rights infrastructure, UN and regional level initiatives risk facing structural and procedural complications which may undermine a more interconnected system of human rights monitoring.

As the growing number of recommendations are absorbed at the domestic level, UN and regional outputs need to be in-sync with national input and attention needs to be focused on the particular value added by each part of this process. A systematic analysis of the specific institutions, norms and procedures that make the ‘transmission belt’ between the international and domestic spheres will lead to policy recommendations aimed at increased levels of human rights compliance by states.

A Classification of National Monitoring and Implementation Strategies

Each NHRS consists of a unique set of interacting actors, forming official and unofficial synergies that serve the purpose of integrating and monitoring human rights domestically. NHRS components may be part of the state administration (e.g. National Mechanisms for Reporting and Follow-up - NMRFs), may be part of the state administration but stand independent from it (e.g. National Human Rights Institutions - NHRIs) or be purely non-state (e.g. civil society forums). There is no standardized NHRS formulation and its components are affected by contextual variations in each country. Depending on the quality of its NHRS, each state will be varyingly equipped to respond to its international human rights commitments. Therefore, attention needs to be focused on the particular value added by each integrating aspect of existing NHRSs, providing solutions to enhance their performance.

Contrasting the potentially infinite variations, the project will provide a classification of national monitoring and implementation strategies by collecting evidence from three country-specific NHRS studies, namely Costa Rica, Mongolia and Morocco.

A series of online workshops and an international conference will allow the detection of best national practices that are most effective in the monitoring and implementation of international human rights recommendations.

Partners

Consultation partners for this project are the Defensoria de Los Habitantes de Costa Rica, the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, the National Human Rights Council of Morocco, the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

This research project is supported by the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Office of the United Nations and to the other International Organizations in Geneva.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Dr Domenico Zipoli News

Our Research Fellow Dr Domenico Zipoli Successfully Defended his PhD Thesis

16 April 2021

Our Research Fellow Dr Domenico Zipoli just defended with success his PhD thesis The Power of Engagement: Assessing the Effectiveness of Cooperation between UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and National Human Rights Institutions.

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National Strategies for Human Rights Monitoring and Implementation

12 February 2021

Our new publication analyses institutional cooperation initiatives at the domestic level designed to strengthen human rights implementation.

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Experts Discuss Strategies for more Effective National Human Rights Systems

17 December 2020

Experts from Geneva-based human rights mechanisms and representatives from more than 20 different national human rights systems discussed in an online meeting the implementation of human rights standards through national human rights systems.

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RESEARCHERS

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow, Geneva Human Rights Platform

His research focuses on the question of connectivity among international human rights mechanisms and on national strategies for monitoring, implementation and follow-up of international human rights obligations and recommendations.

Publications

Cover page of the Briefing

National Human Rights Strategies: The Role of National Human Rights Systems in the Implementation of International Human Rights Standards

January 2021

Domenico Zipoli

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; The International Land Coalition

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Cover of the publication

Beyond the 2020 Treaty Body Review: The Role of National Human Rights Systems

June 2020

Domenico Zipoli

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the publication

Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures: Providing Redress and Reparation to Victims of Human Rights Violations

May 2019

Claire Callejon, Kamelia Kemileva, Felix Kirchmeier

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the publication

Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System

May 2018

Domenico Zipoli, Felix Kirchmeier, Kamelia Kemileva, Claire Callejon

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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