Self-assessment Toolkit on Parliaments & HR

Respect for human rights is a critical foundation of strong democratic societies. Yet, while their fundamental importance is universally recognized, human rights continue to be under strain across the world. International and national conflicts, humanitarian crises, rising authoritarianism, racism and xenophobia, climate change, widening inequalities and, most recently, a global pandemic all pose formidable challenges and underscore the need for parliaments to double their efforts to place human rights at the centre of their work.

What contribution can parliaments make in this regard? Parliaments have a central role to play in building strong national human rights protection systems by adopting human rights-sensitive laws, by supporting the ratification of human rights treaties, by holding governments to account and by approving national budgets that promote human rights. Parliaments are also well-positioned to work with national and international human rights stakeholders, and to implement, directly and indirectly, international human rights standards, with a full understanding of the local context.

Against this backdrop, this self-assessment toolkit sets out to assist parliaments in assessing the extent to which international human rights norms and mechanisms are fully known inside parliament and are integrated into parliamentary processes, procedures and structures. This internal reflection exercise should empower parliaments to identify good practices, gaps and lessons learned, and enable them to chart a course of action to ensure better awareness and mainstreaming of human rights in their work.

The publication draws on the extensive experience of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in supporting national parliaments through human rights capacitybuilding activities, and is aligned with the IPU Common Principles  for Support to Parliaments, which empower parliaments to take ownership of their own development. It is also intended to complement the joint IPU and OHCHR publication Human Rights:  Handbook for Parliamentarians No. 26.

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