The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-partisan, international nongovernmental organisation, mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. In 1987, several Commonwealth professional associations founded CHRI. They believed that while the Commonwealth provided member countries a shared set of values and legal principles from which to work and provided a forum within which to promote human rights, there was little focus on the issues of human rights within the Commonwealth.
The objectives of CHRI are to promote awareness of and adherence to the Commonwealth Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in Commonwealth member states. Through its reports and periodic investigations, CHRI continually draws attention to progress and setbacks to human rights in Commonwealth countries. In advocating for approaches and measures to prevent human rights abuses, CHRI addresses UN, the Commonwealth Secretariat, member governments and civil society organisations. Through its public education programmes, policy dialogues, comparative research, advocacy and networking, CHRI’s approach throughout is to act as a catalyst around its priority issues.
The nature of CHRI’s sponsoring organisations allows for a national presence and an international network. These professionals can also steer public policy by incorporating human rights norms into their own work and act as a conduit to disseminate human rights information, standards and practices. These groups also bring local knowledge, can access policy-makers, highlight issues, and act in concert to promote human rights.