Building NHRIs’ Resilience – CHR at the OSCE conference

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Commissioner for Human Rights Marcin Wiącek took part in the OSCE High-level Meeting for Heads of National Human Rights Institutions. The meeting  focused on building NHRIs’ Resilience and took place on 5-6 September 2022.

During the Conference Marcin Wiącek stressed that the Commissioner should steer clear of current politics and refrain from participating in political debate. The Commissioner must be completely independent and impartial. Accordingly, they should not reveal their political preferences or worldview. Any public activity has the potential to be considered political, especially if it is significant to citizens, because such an activity could affect their decisions as voters.
- I believe that the only path which Ombudspersons should follow is the law. Nothing but the law. Moreover, I feel that by avoiding political involvement and engaging with those in power solely through legal, not political, arguments, much more can be achieved in protecting human rights. Of course, I would like to make it clear that this stance is not about avoiding difficult topics or shying away from cases that could have political ramifications. Ombudspersons must defend human rights in every situation and in every case, without compromise – said Commissioner Marcin Wiącek. 
He also added that in many spheres parliament and the government enjoy political freedom, and Ombudspersons are obliged to respect this freedom. 
-Based on my own experience after a year in office, I can say that such an approach to performing my office – I would call it "sustainable" – has been noticed and respected by politicians themselves, across the political spectrum.
Why am I talking about it? Because it relates directly to the agenda of our meeting and the search for ways to strengthen the resilience of human rights institutions in challenging times. This resilience depends not only on legal guarantees, but also on the attitudes of those who hold the Ombudsperson office. If they want their independence to be respected, they themselves should demonstrate their independence. They should show their respect for the principle of the separation of powers and their respect for the fact that it is the government and parliament, with their democratic mandate, that are responsible for conducting state policy – stressed the Commissioner.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) organized a meeting of heads of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from the OSCE region focused on building resilient NHRIs.
Representatives of NHRIs, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), NHRI networks and other regional partners gathered in Warsaw to discuss how to build resilience in their institutions and address threats facing NHRIs.
On the first day, ODIHR presented the results of its 2021 monitoring of threats against NHRIs in the OSCE region and its new Guidance Tool on Strengthening the Resilience of NHRIs. Discussions focused on building long-term resilience and responding to immediate threats. Participants shared their own experiences, good practices and lessons learned in managing crises and in strengthening their institutions to face potential threats.