Update: 06.08.2014

Model for an independent human rights institution in Switzerland

Up to the present day, Switzerland does not have an independent national human rights institution. On 1 July 2009 the Federal Council decided to create, on a temporary basis, a human rights service centre with contact points at various Swissuniversities. After a tendering procedure, the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR) was opened on 6 May 2011.

Fundamental decision 2015

The test phase of the SCHR will expire at the end of 2015. Based on a careful evaluation of the SCHR's work the Federal Council will take a definitive policy decision at the end of summer 2015 on whether and how the SCHR shall be transformed into an independent human rights institution in the medium term. At present, the statute of the SCHR as a provider of services relating to human rights still lacks the key feature of a national human rights institution defined in the UN Paris Principles, namely independence in all respects.

Basis for lobbying work

In summer 2014, the NGO Platform Human Rights adopted a model for an independent Swiss human rights institution (CH-MRI) which received support from 84 organisations. The model defines the minimal requirements for this institution and briefly outlines its functions, responsibilities and organisational structure.

This definition of a common target has helped Swiss human rights organisations to create a basis for objective discussions with all parties involved. To this end the NGO platform will devise a lobbying strategy by summer 2015.

Examples from other countries

At the end of July 2014 humanrights.ch published the series «national human rights institutions», depicting examples of existing European human rights institutions. This series is meant to provide useful input for the discussion in Switzerland regarding the creation of an independent national human rights institution. The series started with the portrait of the German Institute for Human Rights and the Norwegian Centre for human rights. Other examples will follow on a monthly basis.

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