Independent national human rights institutions (NHRIs) are the bedrock for human rights protection and advancement in any country. Each of the Western Balkan states have established an ombudsperson as the main national human rights institution as well as specialised human right bodies that deal with non-discrimination/equality (EBs), data protection (SADP) and free access to information (FAI). (See here a full list of NHRIs including their mandate and functions)

Assessing effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia is a research project which evaluates the capability of the NHRIs to independently perform their mandate and powers, with the aim to make a significant impact on the achievement of human rights. It is an index measurement based on a comprehensive methodology which includes a previously defined set of indicators derived from relevant international standards.

The research, including data collection, analysis and ranking was conducted by independent experts for each of the countries. It was first conducted in 2019 in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia and then expanded to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo in 2020. Research results per country were synthesized and based on them this comparative overview of NHRIs was developed. 

Effectiveness was assessed in four domains: 1) Independence and ability to work without pressure; 2) Availability of resources and capacities; 3) Information, accessibility and cooperation with other relevant actors; and 4) Mandate and powers. 

The findings from the study “What is Behind and Beyond the Average” are presented comparatively per each domain. This approach was taken because it enables comparative analysis of the subject matters, resulting in a more comprehensive presentation of the status quo, while also providing and discussing the results per country within the domain.