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The Unique Position of National Human Rights Institutions: AMixed Blessing?

Smith, Anne (2006) The Unique Position of National Human Rights Institutions: AMixed Blessing? Human Rights Quarterly, 28 (4). pp. 904-950. [Journal article]

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Please note that the original article is published in the Human Rights QuarterlyNational Human Rights Institutions can play a key role in promoting and protectinghuman rights. They are able to do so by the unique position they occupy betweengovernment, civil society, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). However, thisunique position which holds out opportunities for national human rights institutionsalso gives rise to problems for such institutions. National human rights institutionshave to define and defend their role or space in relation to where they fit in withgovernment and civil society. This can create difficulties for national human rightsinstitutions with respect to their independence and accountability; two key conceptswhich are crucial for a national human rights institution’s legitimacy, credibility, andultimately its effectiveness. This article explores these challenges and opportunitiesusing examples from different countries. It further draws out a more subtleunderstanding of independence and accountability by conceptually unearthing thedifferent layers within the two concepts. In conclusion, a number of recommendationsare made as to how national human rights institutions can maintain theirindependence, while engaging with and being accountable to both government andcivil society. The article is supported in its conclusions by a series of semi-structuredinterviews with key institutional players in the national human rights institutionworld.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:National Human Rights Institutions, Independence, Accountability, Paris Principles, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Human Rights
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
Faculty of Social Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Transitional Justice Institute
ID Code:6704
Deposited By: Dr Anne Smith
Deposited On:14 Jan 2010 14:24
Last Modified:09 Dec 2015 10:05

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