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Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the lack of legal basis for the German Institute for Human Rights

03.03.2015 - Press release

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement on 3 March at a press conference in Geneva on the discussion regarding a legal basis for the German Institute for Human Rights:

The German Institute for Human Rights is a cornerstone of our work to promote human rights around the world. The institute now risks losing its participation rights in the United Nations because the necessary legal basis is blocked. If this were to happen, it would be shameful and would damage Germany’s standing in the world, all the more so in the year of our Presidency.

This is why we must finally get down to business, also in the Federal Government, to ensure that the institute is given a solid legal basis.

Background information:

The German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR) in Berlin is Germany’s independent National Human Rights Organisation (NHRI). In accordance with the principles of the United Nations established for NHRIs (known as the Paris Principles), their main task is to independently monitor the human rights situation in their own country, to work to protect and promote human rights and to perform corresponding advisory and information functions.

A coordinating committee in Geneva assesses the institutions on a regular basis with regard to their compliance with the Paris Principles. In most cases, the primary focus of the assessment is on the question of independence and also the need for a legal basis.

The DIMR was accorded the highest status (status A) by this committee, which means that it enjoys, among other things, the right to attend and speak at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The committee has already criticised the DIMR’s lack of legal basis on a number of occasions and has announced that the organisation will be downgraded from its previous status A. A deadline of October 2014 was set to resolve this situation.

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