Four Immediately Implementable Reforms to Enhance Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission

Summary

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC), Myanmar’s national human rights institution (NHRI), must do better to promote and protect human rights in the face of persistent rights violations and abuses throughout the country. To do so, it must also be empowered by legislative and other measures by the Government of Myanmar to fulfill its mandate independently, impartially and effectively, in line with international standards on NHRIs. The required legal and structural reforms are well known. They were identified by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in its 2015 accreditation assessment of the Commission. Many of its recommendations were reinforced by the MNHRC’s own self-assessment in 2018. The MNHRC continues to commandlow levels of public confidence and presently operates with the minimum possible number of appointees (seven Commissioners of a possible 15). Acentral impediment to its effectiveness is a lack of independence, owing largely to flaws in the selection and appointment process of its Commissioners, which also fails to facilitate a gender balance and diversity of backgrounds, and to weak legal protections accorded to the institution under law. The Commission’s mandate, as provided in the 2014 MNHRC Law, and the manner in which that mandate has been interpreted by the Commissioners, serve to limit the MNHRC’s effectiveness.

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