Principles for Regional Human Rights Mechanisms (Non-Paper)

A regional human rights mechanism shall be mandated to independently promote and protect human rights in accordance with the human rights commitments of the individual States Parties, with the following powers, responsibilities and structure as a minimum:

Monitoring

  • Observes the general human rights situation in the region and publishes reports which include recommendations for collective action at the regional level;
  • May request States Parties to provide it with information in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights, including information on specific human rights situations;
  • Carries out on-site visits to States Parties to investigate specific human rights concerns. These visits shall result in a report regarding the human rights situation observed which will contain recommendations to the relevant State Party on the adoption of measures to remedy any violations determined;
  • Issues progress reports on a periodic basis following initial on-site visits and reports;
  • The reports will be made public and widely circulated, with the help of States Parties, to media outlets, legislatures, academic institutions, public libraries, relevant international institutions and to the relevant government departments of all States Parties, as well as being placed on the Internet;
  • Develops an early warning system to help prevent gross violations of human rights, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Communications

  • Receives, investigates, analyses and decides on communications from any person, group of persons or non-governmental organisation alleging human rights violation(s) by a State Party;
  • The communication must show that the victim has exhausted all means of remedying the situation at the national level. If national remedies have not been exhausted, it must be shown that the victim tried to exhaust national remedies but failed because: 1) Those remedies did not provide for adequate due process; 2) Effective access to those remedies was denied, or; 3) There had been an unreasonably prolonged delay in the decision on those remedies;
  • In the course of an investigation, the mechanism shall have the power to obtain all necessary information (including unrestricted, confidential access to alleged victims, witnesses, and places of relevance) with a guarantee that the State Party will not engage in reprisals against those persons providing information to the mechanism;
  • Where the mechanism finds that there has been a violation of human rights, recommendations shall be made in the form of specific findings to the State Party concerned and the recommendation of appropriate remedies;
  • To help ensure compliance, States Parties must report within 90 days on steps that they have taken to give effect to the findings or decisions of the mechanism. Furthermore, a secretariat shall be established to follow up on information pertaining to compliance and implementation of remedies and recommendations of the mechanism;
  • Complainants, witnesses, those conducting the investigation and others involved in investigations shall be protected from violence, threats of violence and any other form of intimidation;
  • In serious and urgent cases, and whenever necessary according to the information available, the mechanism may request that the State Party concerned adopt specific precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons;
  • Any State Party may send a communication to the regional human rights mechanism alleging that another State Party has committed a violation of human rights.

Capacity Building and Education

  • Provides and contributes to human rights training programmes for relevant groups including the police, the military, parliamentarians, non-governmental organisations, national human rights institutions, schools and universities. Also assists with the formulation of programmes for the teaching of human rights to various groups;
  • Develops wider public awareness and knowledge of human rights in the region by carrying out, publishing and distributing widely studies on specific subjects and by organising conferences, seminars and meetings with representatives of governments, academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and UN representatives in order to disseminate information;
  • Advises on national and regional policies and legislation in order to ensure harmonization and compliance with international human rights norms and standards;
  • Responds to requests for advice from States Parties on matters concerning human rights;
  • Adopts general comments that help to clarify the meanings of human rights standards, taking into account the general comments issued by international human rights treaty bodies;
  • Conducts promotional country visits with the purpose of engaging with government officials, reminding the States Parties of their obligations, and otherwise promoting human rights standards;
  • Encourages ratification of or accession to all core international human rights treaties;
  • Cooperates and consults with international, regional, national and local institutions that are competent in the areas of the promotion and protection of human rights, including national human rights institutions and the United Nations;
  • Cooperates and consults with non-governmental organisations devoted to promoting and protecting human rights;
  • Establishes contact with representatives of non-governmental organisations, other relevant non-state institutions and the media to publicise its work and mandate.

Composition and support

  • The regional mechanism shall be composed of members who are independent from government, and are impartial persons of integrity with a recognised competence in the field of human rights;
  • Members shall be nominated by each State Party following a fair and transparent selection process at the national level which includes close consultation with civil society, non-governmental organisations, and national human rights institutions (if applicable);
  • If a member is alleged to be engaged in actions that are incompatible with service on the regional mechanism, at first instance the matter shall be decided by the mechanism itself and, in the second instance, by the Foreign Ministers Meeting;
  • Membership of the mechanism will reflect representation of geographical areas and shall aim to achieve gender balance;
  • Members shall be elected for a single, non-renewable term of five years. They shall be accorded necessary privileges and immunities by the States Parties in order to conduct their work;
  • States Parties shall provide the mechanism with adequate resources, and the authority to use these resources freely and independently, to properly fulfil its mandate. In this regard, the work of the members shall be supported by a secretariat, with professional administrative staff appointed according to criteria of competence, impartiality and independence.