"National human rights institutions as tools for advocacy"

Facilitator: Kirsten Roberts

Kirsten is a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School for the 2012/2013 academic year. She is on career break from her position as Acting Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Research, Policy and Promotion of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Ireland's 'A' Status National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).

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More about the training:

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are national-level independent state organizations for the promotion and protection of human rights. Although relatively new institutions within the human rights framework, they are creating a unique '4th space' separate to international organizations, states and civil society. NHRIs are recognized as potentially influential actors in promoting and protecting human rights nationally, regionally and internationally including by the United Nations, which actively promotes their establishment and strengthening. NHRIs are increasingly the focus of international and regional organizations as national monitors and implementers of international human rights law and policy and as providers of information from the ground. The views and opinions of NHRIs - particularly NHRIs that are in compliance with the Paris Principles - are often given considerable weight and prominence. In this context, they have the potential to be important advocacy tools for those working in human rights.
This training will begin with an overview of NHRIs; their origins, mandate and the types of NHRIs that exist. Case examples will be used to consider the crucial elements of NHRIs; independence, mandate and functioning in light of the UN Paris Principles and the practical realities, and on this basis, how NHRIs can be utilized as tools for human rights advocacy in practice.
Questions to consider during this training are what potential added value NHRIs can be bring to advocacy efforts in light of their unique positioning at the national and international level, and how their levels of independence, mandate and functioning in practice impacts on their potential usefulness as advocacy tools.

More about the facilitator, Kirsten Roberts:

From 2008 - 2011 Kirsten was coordinator of the 35 member European Group of NHRIs during the IHRC Chairmanship of the European Group. She has spoken widely and written on the topic of NHRIs and has acted as a resource person on NHRIs for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Development Programme. Kirsten has also acted as an independent expert on fundamental rights for the European Commission Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) platform as part of their assistance programme to EU candidate and neighbour countries including in the assessment of NHRIs.

Kirsten’s previous experience has included the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, European Court of Justice, and Amnesty International.