Compliance of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Ethiopia with the Paris Principles

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Compliance of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Ethiopia with the Paris Principles By: Abraham Ayalew
The establishment of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission was necessitated as a result of the provisions of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Constitution. The inclusion in the Constitution of the establishment of the Commission may, inter alia, be a result of the World Conference on Human Rights which was conducted a year before the adoption of the Constitution. As a “National Institution” its constituent document is expected to take in to consideration the international movement and accepted standards guiding the establishment of such institutions. One important document in this regard is the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions, also known as the Paris Principles, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations under Resolution 48/144 of 20th December 1993. The Paris Principles has become an international standard against which the level of operation and efficacy of a national institution is measured worldwide. For example, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights bestows a special observer status on a national institution operating in Africa based on its conformity to the provisions in this document. What is more, the Sub Committee on Accreditation of the International Coordinating Committee has a mandate to analyze applications for accreditation from national human rights institutions on the basis of its compliance with the Paris Principles. It is for these reasons that any study involving evaluation of national institutions with the Paris Principles is of utmost importance. In this regard, the very purpose of this article is to assess whether or not the establishing law of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission complies with the Paris Principles. In doing so after describing the Paris Principles and National Institutions; establishment, independence and pluralism and mandate and composition of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission are dealt vis-à-vis the principles. Within these topics an attempt is made to dissect all the provisions of the Commission in comparison to the main tenets of the principles. Thus the discussion in this article is principally limited to analyzing the legislation. The Paris Principles

In 1991 a conference was held in Paris where representatives of national human rights institutions from all over the world met to define the salient features in any new or existing national human rights institution. The conference was concluded after designing the role and functions, mandates and independence of national human rights institutions; the main role of which revolves around the promotion and protection of human rights. The draft document was later adopted by the UN General Assembly. This was followed by a call for the establishment of national human rights institutions in countries where there was none at the World Conference for Human Rights held in 1993. It was stated that the conference “encourages the establishment and strengthening of national institutions, having regard to the Principles relating to the status of national institutions and recognizing that it is the right of each State to choose the framework which is best suited to its particular needs at the national level.” The Paris Principles, though not binding, have nowadays achieved a worldwide acceptance in guiding the work and functions of national human rights institutions. It is as a result of this that the International Coordination Committee (hereinafter the ICC) for national human rights institutions that accredits national human rights institutions bases its assessment predominantly on it. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights follows suit in this regard to grant special observer status to any African national institution established in Africa functioning according to internationally recognized norms and standards specifically...
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