In Highlight: The National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD)

15 December 2023

Stakeholders at both national and international levels have introduced a growing number of digital human rights tracking tools and databases (DHRTTDs) designed to facilitate a more holistic approach to human rights monitoring and implementation.

Via its DHRTTDs Directory, the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) provides a comprehensive list and description of such key tools and databases. But how to navigate them? Which tool should be used for what, and by whom?

In this interview, Victoire Berrebi, Project Assistant at the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) and Artur Iatsevych, Human Rights Officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights help us understand better the specificities of these tools and tells us about the November highlight of the directory: The National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD).

What is special about this tool? What differentiate NRTD from other tracking tools and databases?

The National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD) stands out as an interactive web application dedicated to assisting states in the planning and monitoring of their human rights obligations and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is designed only for the use of states (National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up and human rights focal points).

A distinctive feature of the NRTD lies in its capacity to automatically import and consolidate all recommendations related to a specific country from United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms, including treaty bodies, special procedures, and the Universal Periodic Review, indexed by themes, concerned groups, and SDGs. This centralized approach ensures that states have a comprehensive repository of recommendations at their disposal, streamlining the process of implementation, tracking and reporting.

What sets NRTD apart from other tracking tools is its entirely free-of-charge model, hosted, developed, and maintained by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), making this tool accessible to all states, irrespective of financial constraints.

The NRTD goes beyond one-size-fits-all solutions by offering customizable features designed to adapt to individual countries' institutional setups and procedures. This flexibility ensures that the tool aligns seamlessly with the diverse requirements of States, enhancing tracking and reporting of the implementation of human rights recommendations. Moreover, the NRTD boasts a user-friendly interface fully translated into multiple languages, including English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese. Furthermore, the interface can be translated into any national language. This multilingual support enhances accessibility and ensures users can engage with the database in their preferred language. As the NRTD comes with roll-out support from OHCHR’s Capacity Building Programme on the Human Rights Treaties, this support notably assists in customizing the tool to meet some specific needs of the user country.

How many national versions of NRTD exist?

As of 1 December 2023, OHCHR has received requests from approximately 50 States to access the NRTD. To date, it has been officially launched in Botswana, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Palestine, the Philippines, Serbia, and Uzbekistan.

Can you give a concrete example of how it can be used to monitor national implementation of international human rights obligations?

The NRTD serves as a practical tool for systematically monitoring the national implementation of international human rights obligations and recommendations received from various human rights mechanisms at the international, regional, or national levels. In Serbia, the database was used by the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue – acting as the National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-Up (NMIRF) secretariat – to strengthen the State’s capacity to monitor the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights by contributing to the drafting of a follow-up report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. State officials examined the Concluding Observations on the third periodic report (2022) and addressed the recommendations outlined by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) for the follow-up procedure. These recommendations were assigned to specific state institutions to provide updates on their implementation progress directly within the system. Once human rights focal points entered initial information on achieved results, the National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-Up (NMIRF) secretariat gained an accurate overview of the implementation status of specific CESCR recommendations, identifying areas, where progress information was lacking or additional actions were required.

Furthermore, this process enabled the Ministry to identify cross-cutting issues that were not only relevant to CESCR but also extended to other human rights treaties. This comprehensive perspective ensured a more holistic approach to implementation and reporting, fostering collaboration among human rights focal points.

Who are its main users?

The primary users of the NRTD are NMIRFs, which administrate the database, and human rights focal points from diverse state institutions, including the judiciary and parliaments. Concurrently, States have the discretion to grant access to the system to other relevant stakeholders, including National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and representatives from civil society.

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