Establishing an NHRI in a Contested Political Space: A Deliberative Process in Israel
33 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019 Last revised: 2 Apr 2019
Date Written: February 14, 2019
How can National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), as centerpieces of national human rights systems (NHRSs) be established effectively in contested political spaces? Could the effectiveness of the NHRS be enhanced even without a formal NHRI? These questions informed a deliberative process in Israel that brought together representatives from government, human rights organisations and academia. Our research concludes that none of the institutions working in the field of human rights in Israel fully conform to the international standard required for the accreditation as an NHRI, although in conjunction with each other they constitute a fairly effective NHRS. The project raised several dilemmas: should we aim for a first-best option? Would an Israeli NHRI be able to deal with the most severe human rights violations? Would the political atmosphere have adverse effects on the protection of human rights? Considering these dilemmas, we conclude that the Paris Principles, however necessary, do not in themselves ensure effectiveness, and might be too demanding politically in contested spaces, such as Israel at the present time. Nonetheless, cautious progress could be made to enhance the effectiveness of the current Israeli NHRS.
Keywords: Paris Principles, effectiveness, NHRI design, Israel, deliberative process, contested political spaces, National Human Rights Systems
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