April 2011 – Vienna
At a special Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Human Rights held in Vienna on 14 April 2011, members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) asserted that national human rights institutions need a clear mandate, sufficient resources, and genuine independence from government to be able to play their role effectively. The two-day meeting, organized by the OSCE’s Lithuanian Chairmanship and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), brought together members of national human rights institutions and representatives of governments and civil society from the Organization’s 56 participating States and Partners for Co-operation. Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of ODIHR, stressed that national human rights institutions should act as a bridge between civil society and governments rather than being “just another tool in the hands of governments to conceal or disregard human rights violations.” National human rights organizations often report that they have insufficient human and financial resources to do their work, said Lenarčič, and their advice, guidance and recommendations are at times not followed or even ignored.
The flags of the OSCE in front of the Hofburg in Vienna, 9 March 2010. The Hofburg provided the setting for the 2011 Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on National Human Rights Institutions. (OSCE/Sarah Crozier)