The International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (the ICC) is a body established to grant accreditation to national human rights institutions around the world. This accreditation enables these national bodies to participate at the UN, including in the Human Rights Council. In order to obtain such accreditation, each national human rights institution must adhere to a set of regulations known as the ‘Paris Principles’. One requirement of the ‘Paris Principles’ is that the national institution have a pluralist representation of the social forces (of civilian society). This includes through cooperation with, or through the presence of representatives of:
(a) Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) responsible for human rights and efforts to combat racial discrimination, trade unions, concerned social and professional organizations, for example, associations of lawyers, doctors, journalists and eminent scientists;
(b) Trends in philosophical or religious thought;
(c) Universities and qualified experts;
(e) Government departments (if these are included, their representatives should participate in the deliberations only in an advisory capacity).
Many national human rights institutions have a commission structure (for example, the Australian Human Rights Commission or the New Zealand Human Rights Commission). With a commission structure, the institution is able to capture the pluralism and diversity. However, in Samoa, as in some other countries such as Croatia or Colombia, the National Human Rights Institution is an Ombudsman structure, using the existing Office of the Ombudsman. Hence, in order to capture the pluralism requirement of the Paris Principles, the Samoan NHRI will have an Advisory Council. This Advisory Council will be made up of members from different areas of Samoan society, such as (but not limited to) churches, traditional authorities, disability groups, women’s organisation, NGOs, university academics, business, professional associations, the legal profession, and the medical and health professions.
A call for applications for candidates for the Advisory Council will be announced in the future after the Terms of Reference of the Advisory Council have been finalised.