In late January 2017, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) deferred the re-accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC or NHRCI)—India’s central human rights body. The GANHRI, formerly known as the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, is an international association affiliated to the United Nations. According to its website, it comprises national humans rights institutions (NHRIs) from all parts of the globe. The organisation is responsible for ensuring that the composition an functioning of NHRIs across the world are in conformity with the Paris Principles. Adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993, the Paris Principles prescribe the minimum international standards for an NHRI.
As per the GANHRI Statute, only NHRIs that have been accredited by the GANHRI are permitted to represent their respective countries before the UN Human Rights Commission. The statute also constitutes a Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) to review the compliance of NHRIs with the Paris Principles. The SCA makes recommendations on accreditation to the GANHRI Bureau—the committee that manages the GANHRI and takes the final decision on whether an institution would be accredited. The SCA recommends an “A” accreditation for institutions that are completely compliant with the Paris Principles, a “B” accreditation for those that are partially compliant, and “C” accreditation for non-compliant institutions. An institution that receives an “A” accreditation is subject to a periodic re-accreditation process every five years.
A press release regarding the NHRC’s re-accreditation in 2011 states that it has held an “A” status since 1999. In 2016, it was due for re-accreditation. However, in a report submitted to the GANHRI Bureau in November 2016, the SCA recommended that further consideration of the NHRC’s re-accreditation application was necessary and deferred the decision till November 2017. In the following excerpt from this report, the SCA elaborates on the problematic composition and functioning of the NHRC, noting among other concerns, the lack of pluralism among the NHRC’s members and the opacity of their selection criteria, political appointments to the NHRC, and its backlog of cases.