The conclusions and recommendations in this report do not repeat the recommendations from the country reports, addressed to the national authorities, national NHRIs and NGOs. They exclusively focus on issues within the regional, European or global scope and further research.
- The general scores and scores across domains tend towards the average. However, the analysis demonstrates that some fundamental issues related to the effectiveness of NHRI remain challenging in all domains, but those regarding independence are of critical importance. As these issues have been identified in the sphere of informality rather than formality (non-transparent appointment procedures, actual pressure, actual blocking of the work of the institution, etc.), it is recommended to perform in-depth case studies and further qualitative research to identify and address these complex challenges.
- The research indicates that in addition to the approach by the state authorities to the NHRIs, issues of strategic approach and vision for their development, capacity and accountability of the NHRIs themselves persist. There are limiting factors for raising their effectiveness, such as lack of strategic planning and communication strategy, inadequate financial control, lack of focus on information sharing and accessibility, cooperation among NHRIs and with NGOs etc.) Thus, they require further specific attention. Exploring these factors would assist in identifying the directions and options for the further strategic development of the NHRIs in the region.
- While the level of socialisation in the international human rights community at least at the formal level is relatively high (except Kosovo), it is important to further focus on the qualitative side of this process. The slow speed of integration in the EU might impede the substantial socialisation; therefore, it is necessary to encourage structured cooperation and participation in the European organisations and networks.
- The rather diverse achievements and shortcomings of different institutions in different domains/indicators can be an opportunity for learning from each other within the region. This research can be a basis for identifying best practices and lessons learned and mutual support in endeavours, such as international cooperation.
- The research has confirmed the need for structured and comparable measuring of the effectiveness of NHRIs in the Western Balkans. This ensures the need for an NHRI research at regular intervals for all the countries in the Western Balkans.
Consequently, the following recommendations should be considered:
- The EU institutions should consider and support the maximum possible level of participation of NHRIs in European networks. The EC should also support concrete projects on the transfer of best practices from MS, stimulating dialogue with the NHRIs in the WB and networking, as well as the regional transfer of best practices, to support socialisation in the international framework.
- International/bilateral donors should support regional co-operation and sharing of experiences on a regional basis with EU and CoE member states, with a view to enhancing the role of NHRIs and their capacities, as well as their representation in various mechanisms and reporting to such mechanisms.
- The RCC should consider the inclusion of the other NHRIs, in addition to the ombudspersons, in the Balkan Barometer survey, thus ensuring consistent measuring of the legitimacy of the NHRIs in the WB and raising awareness on human rights issues in the region.
- The RCC could also consider initiating programs/activities on structured cooperation of all NHRIs in the WB, focused on a strategic approach to raising the effectiveness of NHRIs in the WB.
- The national authorities should promote a strategic approach towards the further increase of effectiveness of the NHRIs, taking into account the best regional, European and global practices, with focus on the substantial rather than formal compliance with the international standards, avoiding swift and frequent changes to the legal framework.
- The NHRIs in the region should develop structured networking and cooperation among them, including design of joint projects (considering, e.g. transfer of best practices), identifying and addressing main structural and performance issues and developing strategic approaches. In this line, a networking hub among regional NHRIs should be considered with the aim to promote and foster closer regional cooperation between NHRIs, as well as with other relevant human rights actors. Through this cooperation, the NHRIs in the region have a chance to act as trailblazers on cross-country and cross-thematic issues which are awarded little to no attention despite their far-reaching consequences for human rights, such as, for example, use of artificial intelligence and its potential impact on human rights.
- The NHRIs in the region should foster structured cooperation with NGOs at national, but also at the regional level, in order to increase their individual effectiveness, improve public oversight of NHRIs, inform audiences and key stakeholders with the aim to gain citizen’s trust, thus ultimately increasing their impact.
- The NHRIs in the region should support each other by endorsements for membership in regional and international organizations for NHRIs who are not members yet.
- The NGOs should at global, European and regional level increase the networking and cooperation, including through design and implementation of joint projects for monitoring, research and advocacy related to the effectiveness of NHRIs.
- The NHRIs should also significantly improve their approach to communication with the citizens and accessibility, through developing and implementing consistent communication strategies, including periodic measuring of their legitimacy.
- Regional media and/or platforms should take a more proactive role to promote the work of NHRIs. This would contribute towards public confidence in the NHRIs.