National human rights institutions are State bodies with a constitutional and/or legislative mandate to protect and promote human rights. They are part of the State apparatus and are funded by the State. However, they operate and function independently from government.
While their specific mandate may vary, the general role of NHRIs is to address discrimination in all its forms, as well as to promote the protection of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Core functions of NHRIs include complaint handling, human rights education and making recommendations on law reform.
Effective NHRIs are an important link between government and civil society, in so far as they help bridge the 'protection gap' between the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of the State.
Six models of NHRIs exist across all regions of the world today, namely: Human rights commissions, Human rights ombudsman institutions, Hybrid institutions, Consultative and advisory bodies, Institutes and centres and multiple institutions.