Swiss national human rights institution established in Bern
Bern, 23.05.2023 - The Swiss national human rights institution (NHRI) was inaugurated on Tuesday 23 May in Bern. Its creation is the culmination of a political process which has taken over 20 years. The mission of the NHRI, an independent institution, will be to contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights in Switzerland by working with the federal, cantonal and communal authorities, as well as with all other relevant actors.
More than 100 founding members attended its constitutive assembly. On 13 December 2019, the Federal Council had approved the proposal to create the NHRI. Parliament in turn adopted it on 1 October 2021. The creation of this institution is a historic moment in Switzerland and an important step after more than 20 years on the political agenda.
Today, some 120 states, including almost all European nations, have such institutions, based on the Paris Principles adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993. In accordance with the Paris Principles and the Federal Act on Measures pertaining to Civil Peace Support and the Promotion of Human Rights, the NHRI will ensure that its members represent a broad cross-section of society.
The NHRI is the result of a working group
The preparatory work for the creation of the NHRI was carried out by a working group which saw the process through to its conclusion. The working group was established in the spring of 2022. Coordinated by the FDFA, it was composed of representatives of the Swiss Confederation, extra-parliamentary committees, the cantons, civil society and the business community. Its mandate was to draft the Articles of Association of the NHRI and to convene the constitutive assembly.
Now that the founding process has been completed, the federal government and the cantons have entrusted the elected board of directors and its chair Raphaela Cueni with full independence. The NHRI's tasks include information, documentation, research, advice, education and awareness-raising on human rights in Switzerland. It will decide for itself how to carry out its tasks and use its resources. It will work with the federal and cantonal authorities, and also with NGOs, the private sector, the scientific community and international organisations.
The NHRI will also be responsible for conducting discussions at the international level, with a mandate ranging from domestic human rights issues to matters relating to the implementation of international human rights commitments in Switzerland. The institution therefore enhances further the credibility of Swiss foreign policy.
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