NHRI Academy 2018 concludes in Helsinki

On 4 – 8 June 2018, 27 representatives of NHRIs from across the OSCE region participated in Helsinki in the fifth edition of the NHRI Academy. The focus of this year’s edition was the role of NHRIs in legislative reviews and lawmaking and the promotion and protection of the Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and the democratic space in general.

Together with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), ENNHRI organizes the Academy to provide practical human rights training to NHRI staff, and to create an environment for sharing good practices between peers.

“The Academy is a great opportunity for colleagues to gather, exchange ideas and learn from each other”
Lora Vidović, ENNHRI’s Chair

NHRIs and lawmaking

As legislative reviews are a core function of NHRIs, participants discussed how NHRIs can contribute to the different stages of the legislative process, from initiation to implementation. By sharing their national experiences, participants gained insights in the different ways in which legislative work is carried out by NHRIs across the region.

“The NHRI Academy is a great platform for gaining new knowledge and skills and for sharing experiences with colleagues from other NHRIs. It enables us to develop new initiatives to implement at home”
Nina Pirumyan, advisor at the Armenian Office of the Human Rights Defender

Colin Caughey from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission introduced the ‘traffic light system’ used in the human rights reports. Topics of concern get a ‘red light’, while those where government progress was already achieved get a ‘green light’. The system facilitates the efficient monitoring of legislative impacts and the prioritization of follow-up actions towards government.

NHRIs and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)

This session flagged out the need for NHRIs to enable a thriving environment for HRDs. While they are HRDs themselves, NHRIs can also support other HRDs across the region, especially when they face threats. The testimony of Sakris Kupila, a Finnish human rights defender in need of legal protection, showed the importance of being connected to other defenders’ networks.

“We cannot stop the smearing, but NHRIs can continue supporting each other and other HRDs”
Sakris Kupila, Finnish Human Rights Defender

Memorandum of Understanding

This year’s Academy also included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ENNHRI and ODIHR, which recognizes the importance of the longstanding partnership between the two institutions and provides a solid basis for future cooperation. Through the NHRI Academy, which is organized every year since 2014, ODIHR and ENNHRI have trained over 100 participants from the OSCE participating States.