Comparative Study on Mandates of National Human Rights Institutions in the Commonwealth

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This is the first Commonwealth-wide comparative study of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and is designed to help everyone interested in establishing and developing NHRIs to improve their effectiveness.

The study looks at the international framework for the protection of human rights, and the historical and political background to the establishment of NHRIs and ombudsman offices. The individual mandates of various institutions are considered, looking at them region by region. Finally, the study compares the normative framework and mandates of the NHRIs are analysed, comparing what NHRIs are empowered to do and what they are doing in practice, though value judgements as to the merits and demerits of individual named institutions are avoided.

Rather than provide a detailed theoretical analysis, the study concentrates on helping practitioners and policy-makers improve the working of NHRIs in practice, and will be a useful tool both to the institutions themselves and to all those who wish to support them.




The core international legal duty of States under both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 is to respect and ensure to all individuals, without discrimination, their respective civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The framework of the international system for the protection of human rights is founded upon the twin duties of States to first adopt measures to give effect to human rights and fundamental freedoms and second, to ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms are violated is provided with an effective remedy.


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