The Commonwealth Secretariat's Human Rights Unit supports Commonwealth countries’ efforts to promote, protect and respect internationally recognised human rights principles, standards and practices through:

  • the provision of technical assistance targeting the building of effective national human rights institutions and supporting Commonwealth Small States’ engagement with international human rights mechanisms; and 
  • awareness raising of and building of consensus on important human rights challenges, solutions and protection frameworks.

Building effective national human rights institutions 

The presence of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), which is in compliance with the Paris Principles, a set of internationally agreed standards, is one of the indicators for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16

The Secretariat's Human Rights Unit assists Commonwealth countries to:

  • establish new NHRIs;
  • strengthen existing NHRIs through legal frameworks, policies and practices that ensure their independence and effectiveness in line with the Paris Principles; and 
  • engage in effective collaboration, networking and exchanges of good practice through the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions


In proving assistance to our member states and other relevant stakeholders, the Human Rights Unit collaborates with many external organisations, including:  

Contact us

  • Mr. Steve Onwuasoanya is Acting Head of the Human Rights Unit
  • For more information, E-mail us
  • Connect with the Commonwealth on social media using #CommonwealthHRU