ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA)
In line with its key mission to support the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs, the ICC through its Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) reviews and accredits national human rights institutions in compliance with Paris Principles.
The ICC may also assist those NHRIs under threat and encourage NHRI statutory legislations' reforms and the provision of technical assistance, such as education and training opportunities, to strengthen the status and capacities of NHRIs.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is a permanent observer on the SCA and serves as the secretariat to the ICC and its SCA.
The ICC accreditation system has evolved and been strengthened over the past years, guided by the principles of transparency, rigor and independence. Measures that the ICC adopted improve to the process include: a system by which NHRIs are reviewed on a periodic basis of 5 years; an appeal process for NHRIs to ensure greater transparency and due process; a more rigorous review of each application; more focused recommendations; and wider distribution and greater knowledge of SCA recommendations by NHRIs and other stakeholders, so that they can follow up in-country and contribute to the accreditation process.
Accreditation confers international recognition, and protection, of the NHRI and its compliance with the Paris Principles. A status accreditation also grants participation in the work and decision-making of the ICC, as well as the work of the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms.
By 23rd May 2014, 106 NHRIs were accredited by the ICC:
- (A status) - 71 as being in full compliance with the Paris Principles
- (B status) - 25 as being not fully in compliance with the Paris Principles
- (C status) - 10 as being non-compliance with the Paris Principles
The General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, in their resolutions relating to national human rights institutions, encouraged NHRIs to seek accreditation status through the ICC and noted with satisfaction the strengthening of the accreditation process and the continued assistance of OHCHR in this regard.
Likewise, UN human rights mechanisms including the Universal Periodic Review, Treaty Bodies and the Special Procedures increasingly refer to the Paris Principles and the ICC accreditation process, to encourage the establishment and strengthening of fully Paris Principles-compliant NHRIs worldwide.
Accreditation takes place under the rules of procedure of the International Coordinating Committee’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA). The SCA comprises one ‘A’ status institution from each of the four ICC regional groupings: Africa (Commission nationale des droits de l'homme of Mauritania), Americas (Canadian Human Rights Commission), Asia and the Pacific (Independent Commission for Human Rights of the State of Palestine), Europe (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme of France). Its members are appointed by regional groupings for a renewable term of three years.
Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Paris Principles require NHRIs to:
Protect human rights, including by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints, mediating conflicts and monitoring activities; and
Promote human rights, through education, outreach, the media, publications, training and capacity building, as well as advising and assisting the Government.
The Paris Principles set out six main criteria that NHRIs require to meet:
Mandate and competence: a broad mandate, based on universal human rights norms and standards;
Autonomy from Government;
Independence guaranteed by statute or Constitution;
Adequate resources; and
Adequate powers of investigation.
Levels of accreditation
There are currently three levels of accreditation:
“A” Voting member : complies fully with the Paris Principles
“B” Observer member: does not fully comply with the Paris Principles or has not yet submitted sufficient documentation to make that determination
“C” Non-member: does not comply with the Paris Principles
“A” status institutions demonstrate compliance with the Paris Principles. They can participate fully in the international and regional work and meetings of national institutions, as voting members, and they can hold office in the Bureau of the International Coordinating Committee or any sub-committee the Bureau establishes. They are also able to participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council and take the floor under any agenda item, submit documentation and take up separate seating.
“B” status institutions may participate as observers in the international and regional work and meetings of the national human rights institutions. They cannot vote or hold office with the Bureau or its sub-committees. They are not given NHRIs badges, nor may they take the floor under agenda items and submit documentation to the Human Rights Council.
“C” status institutions have no rights or privileges with the ICC or in the United Nations rights forums. They may, at the invention of the Chair of the Bureau, attend meetings of the ICC.