Paris Principles

Principles relating to the status of national institutions – “Paris Principles.
Competence and responsibilities

1.      A national institution shall be vested with competence to promote and protect human rights.

2.      A national institution shall be given as broad a mandate as possible, which shall be clearly set forth in a constitutional or legislative text, specifying its composition and its sphere of competence.

3.      A national institution shall, inter alia, (“among other things”) have the following responsibilities:

a.            To submit to the Government, Parliament and any other competent body, on an advisory basis either at the request of the authorities concerned or through the exercise of its power to hear a matter without higher referral, opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports on any matters concerning the promotion and protection of human rights; the national institution may decide to publicize them; these opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports, as well as any prerogative of the national institution, shall relate to the following areas:

i.      Any legislative or administrative provisions, as well as provisions relating to judicial organizations, intended to preserve and extend the protection of human rights; in that connection, the national institution shall examine the legislation and administrative provisions in force, as well as bills and proposals, and shall make such recommendations as it deems appropriate in order to ensure that these provisions conform to the fundamental principles of human rights; it shall, if necessary, recommend the adoption of new legislation, the amendment of legislation in force and the adoption or amendment of administrative measures;

ii.      Any situation of violation of human rights which it decides to take up;

iii.      The preparation of reports on the national situation with regard to human rights in general, and on more specific matters;

iv.      Drawing the attention of the Government to situations in any part of the country where human rights are violated and making proposals to it for initiatives to put an end to such situations and, where necessary, expressing an opinion on the positions and reactions of the Government;

Devyn Cousineau describes the national human rights institution (NHRI) framework that is reflected in federal, provincial and territorial human rights commissions in Canada. She finds that the “central elements” of NHRIs are embodied in the United Nations Paris Principles,6 which require that such institutions be “established by law” to operate “independently from government” and be “vested with a wide competence to promote human rights and prevent abuses.”

{See – Route 64: An Examination Of The Current Human Rights System In British Columbia. 2006. Edited By Devyn Cousineau. International And Human Rights Law Association. University Of Victoria. }

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