Aid to national human rights institutions (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 928)



Please identify which donors are financing National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and the modalities through which they are financing them. We are also interested in whether there is a solid evidence base to suggest whether and how particular funding instruments can enhance or hinder NHRI performance and overall aid and development effectiveness.

Key Findings

  • Most NHRIs have been established over the past 20 years – and there are now 103 accredited NHRIs across the world. NHRIs vary significantly according to their definition of human rights, mandates, structures, budgets and the national political and legal traditions;
  • There is limited publically available and comparable information about aid flows to NHRIs. At present, the most useful source of this data is the NHRIs themselves – however, levels of budget transparency vary significantly according to each NHRI.
  • The size of budget for NHRIs varies greatly from less than $10,000 (USD) to over $100 million (USD). In a survey of NHRIs, the majority of respondents said their budgets are funded entirely by the state. Some NHRIs limit, or ban, funding from external sources. Donors play a significant role in financing and providing non-financial support to NHRIs in cases where the resources cannot be provided nationally;
  • The literature reviewed for this report revealed a series of key challenges, lessons learned and good practice for external actors in regards to funding NHRIs including: donor coordination; donor driven priorities not supporting national priorities; financial constraints on NHRIs; and linking NHRIs with international and regional mechanisms.
  • The report concludes with a list of potential areas for further support, as suggested by NHRIs.


Herbert, S. Aid to national human rights institutions (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 928). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 9 pp.

Aid to national human rights institutions (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 928)

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