ON THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR ENHANCING ROLE IN PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Understanding the New Challenges, Gains and Opportunities
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Date and venue: 29-30 June 2022- Ankara
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. Defined as independent, statutory bodies, NHRIs are the institutions which transmit international human rights developments into the national level. Acting like a bridge between civil society and governments, as well as international human rights system and the national human rights system, NHRIs are crucial actors for protection and promotion of human rights.
Adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993, Principles Relating the Status of National Human Rights Institutions, the Paris Principles, depicts a clear framework on the competence and responsibilities of NHRIs, composition, guarantees of independence and pluralism as well as their methods of operation. Bearing in the mind that the Paris Principles are essential text setting the framework for the qualifications that NHRIs should have, it is an undeniable fact that many resolutions, declarations, general observations adopted by the international human rights bodies that directly or indirectly affect and enhance the area of work for NHRIs.
Within this context, considering the current thematic areas of work conducted by the international and regional human rights mechanisms such as Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Global Alliance of the National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), European Network of National Human Rights Institution (ENNHRI) it is observed that the focus of NHRIs work has been evolving.
Within this context, GANHRI has a special focus on the thematic area regarding Climate Change and Human Rights which addresses the importance of the human rights based action on climate change. In addition to that, ENNHRI also published a Paper on Climate Change and Human Rights in the European Context and submits a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the landmark climate case Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and others v. Switzerland.
Pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 19 May 2021 on the effects of climate change on human rights and the role of environmental defenders on this matter it is stressed that the enjoyment, protection and promotion of human rights rooted in human dignity, and a healthy and sustainable planet are interdependent; calls on the EU and its Member States to act as a credible and reliable partner on the global stage through the adoption, strengthening and implementation of legislation aligned with a comprehensive human rights-based approach to climate action (HRBA).
In the light of all these developments, the first session of the summit will be devoted to the topic on the Climate Change and Human Rights to understand the role of NHRIs in building human rights-based approach to climate change.
On the other hand, Business and Human Rights is an another topic that comes to the forefront within the context of international human rights agenda. The Edinburgh Declaration was adopted in October, 2010 within the context of the Tenth International Conference of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was devoted to the role of (NHRIs) in addressing Business and Human Rights. The Edinburgh Declaration sets out collective commitments of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to engage proactively with corporate human rights responsibility and abuses, including with reference to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
In addition to that, prepared by the UN OHCHR, Guiding Principles on Human Rights Implementing the United Nations’ Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework that “National human rights institutions that comply with the Paris Principles have an important role to play in helping States identify whether relevant laws are aligned with their human rights obligations and are being effectively enforced, and in providing guidance on human rights also to business enterprises and other non-State actors.”
In this regard, both GANHRI and ENNHRI has a Working Group on Business and Human Rights. Within the context of these studies, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines launched the National Guidance Document on Business and Human Rights co-developed with other CSOs and members of the academia. Considering the importance of all these studies, the second session of the event will be devoted to the Business and Human Rights.
Besides, Human Rights Communication became one of the significant topic that should be followed by Equality Bodies and NHRIs. Within the context of their mandates of promotion of human rights they strive to build broader support for human rights and equality. Moreover, thanks to their unique position and expertise, Equality Bodies and NHRIs are well-positioned to help rights holders better understand their rights and empower them to lead change. In the third session of the Summit, Human Rights Communication and Cooperation with Regional and International Mechanisms will be discussed. In this session, good practices and strategies for NHRIs about different categories of rights will be covered.
In the final session, the title will be “Steps to Achieve Accreditation in line with the UN Paris Principles: Good Practices and Lessons Learned”. This session will be designed as an experience sharing session with the NHRIs who recently got the “A” level of accreditation and other significant actors dealing with the accreditation process. Through this session, it is aimed to discuss the issues regarding what does the accreditation process asses, why does it matter and what are the challenges in this process.
By hosting this event the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye (HREIT) aims to build strong collaboration and networks with all international and regional stakeholders in Its pre-accreditation process.
Pursuant to the Law No. 6701, published in the Official Gazette dated 20.04.2016 and numbered 29690, HREIT mandated to work on the basis of human dignity, towards protection and promotion of human rights, guaranteeing individuals’ right to equal treatment, prevention of discrimination in the exercise of legally recognized rights and freedoms and which will carry out actions in line with these principles, effectively fight against torture and ill treatment and act as National Preventive Mechanism.
Acting as an umbrella institution in protection and promotion of human rights, the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye (HREIT) strives to increase Its engagement with the international and regional human rights mechanisms and as well as desire to become much more visible actor in the international human rights scene. In this regard, accreditation process of the Institution has been started with the official letter of intention for accreditation which has been sent to the Secretariat of Subcommittee of Accreditation (SCA) on 28 June 2021 and our application scheduled in October 2022. Official correspondence process is still ongoing.
Other important supportive developments regarding accreditation of the HREIT has also been taken place in national level. Within the scope of measure 737 under the Rule of Law, Democratization and Good Governance title of the Eleventh Development Plan of Türkiye  covering the years 2019-2023, “Related public institutions’ capacities to protect and enhance the rights and freedoms will be developed and effective coordination will be realized” statement is included.
In addition to that, in line with the measure numbered 736 “A new Human Rights Action Plan will be prepared and implemented effectively”; Action Plan on Human Rights, which was prepared to raise human rights standards in line with the vision of "Free Individuals, Strong Society, More Democratic Türkiye", was announced to the public on March 2, 2021.The Action Plan covers the activities of all public institutions and organizations. The implementation period is 2 years, the purpose, target and activities are included in the action plan, and certain deadlines are foreseen for each activity.
As one of the institutions and organizations responsible for the activities determined in the action plan, one of the objectives of our Institution is “The structure of the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye will be rendered compliant with the UN Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions and its accreditation by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions will be secured” (Goals 1.2-a).
In addition, under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate for EU Affairs, the National Action Plan for EU Accession covering the years 2021-2023 has been prepared and started to be implemented with the contributions of all our public institutions and organizations in order to harmonize with the EU acquis and raise our standards in every field.
Within the scope of Chapter 23 of “Judiciary and Fundamental Rights” under the title of "Fundamental Rights" in the Action Plan, in the title of “Introducing Legal Arrangements to Strengthen the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye”, the purpose of the regulation is stated as “It is aimed to strengthen the institutional structure of the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye in accordance with the UN Paris Principles, thus ensuring its accreditation with an A status by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI.)”
Based on all these developments, in 29-30 June 2022, “International Summit on the National Human Rights Institutions and Their Role in Protection and Promotion of Human Rights: Understanding the New Challenges, Gains and Opportunities” is planned to be conducted by our Institution.
The summit aims to:
- To discuss newly emerging and enhancing role of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in today’s international human rights agenda,
- To highlight the key challenges faced by NHRIs and discuss effective strategies for overcoming these challenges,
- Sharing experiences on the common top agendas of national human rights institutions such as climate change, business and human rights, and human rights communication,
- Addressing the examples of good practices on the increased area of work of the NHRIs in the world and their relevance with the accreditation process of NHRIs within the context of GANHRI level,
- Building strong collaboration and networks with all international and regional stakeholders of the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye.
HREIT derives its authority to organize this international summit from the following legislation:
According to Law No. 6701 9/1-m; “following and assessing international developments in areas of human rights and non-discrimination, cooperating with international organizations working in the field within the framework off relevant legislation” is one of the duties of the institution. This study is conducted within the context of the mandate expressed under this provision.
The two-day Summit consists of several four thematic sessions with the participation of approximately 20 speakers.
On the first day of the Summit, after the Opening Remarks, sessions on “Climate Change”, “Business and Human Rights”, and “Human Rights Communication and Cooperation with Regional and International Mechanism” is planned to be held.
On the second day of the Summit, steps to achieve A-accreditation in line with the UN Paris Principles good practices and lessons learned will be discussed.
The Summit will also be a good opportunity for NHRIs and other actors working in the field of human rights to discuss and share good practices with each other regarding the common areas of their work.
Sessions will be held as a hybrid event with simultaneous interpretation into Turkish and English.
Alişan TİRYAKİ- Deputy Chairman, the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye
Dilek ERTÜRK- Board Member the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye
Bengü Merve DERİN TÜRKOĞLU -Coordinator of the Preliminary Examination Unit
Emre YILDIZ- Coordinator of the Anti- Discrimination and Equality Unit
Esra YAKAR- Coordinator of the Board Affairs and Decisions Unit
Ezgi KAŞKAVAL OKYAY- Coordinator of the International Relations and Project Unit
Hamza AKYÜZ- Coordinator of the Human Resources Unit
Mehmet AKTAŞ- Coordinator of the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Unit
Mehmet Alp DİDİNMEZ - Coordinator of the National Preventive Mechanism Unit
Elif Feyza KAHRAMAN- Assistant Expert on Human Rights and Equality
Sevde ŞENGÜL- Assistant Expert on Human Rights and Equality
For queries related to the Summit, please contact;
Telephone: +90 312 422 79 54
+90 312 422 79 46