Overview of the Nigerian Bar Association – Human Rights Institute

The Nigerian Bar Association has always been at the forefront in the promotion and protection of Human Rights, the Rule of Law and good governance in Nigeria. The Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute (NBA–HRI) was established to effectively and efficiently promote and protect the rule of law, the independence of the legal profession, and to advance human rights enforcement in Nigeria. It will promote respect for human dignity, and translate human rights into specific guidelines for putting those principles into practice. The Institute provides technical development programmes and is also a resource development framework for advocacy in the Nigerian Bar Association. The Institute has a human rights desk in all the 120branches of the Nigerian Bar Association across the country. The Human Rights Institute at the branch level is chaired by the Vice-chairman of the NBA of each branch. The Institute is governed by 15 members of the Governing Council saddled with the responsibility of supervising and controlling its affairs. The 1st Vice President of the NBA is the Chairman of the Council. The Institute also has four full-time staff that run the activities of the Institute daily.

The independence of the Institute will be demonstrated by its choice of agenda, its investigations, the independence of its assessments of human rights issues, and the recommendations based on those assessments.


A society where human rights are promoted and protected and the independence of the legal profession is guaranteed. A society with unhindered access to justice and the human rights and dignity of vulnerable people are protected.


The NBA – HRI explains, monitors and protects human rights, promotes compliance with human rights (including equal treatment) in practice, policy, and legislation, and increases the awareness of human rights in Nigeria.

Human rights are a major concern for any society. The responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights lies with the state. They ratify human rights instruments and are required to develop mechanisms to safeguard them. In Nigeria, however, that may not seem to be the case as citizens daily experience the infringement of their fundamental human rights. Nevertheless, the governance of human rights is actually complex, as all parts of the government are involved, together with various national institutions, bodies, civil society, law enforcement agencies, human rights bodies at various levels etc. Among these, the Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute will occupy a prominent position. For the Institute, the safeguarding of human dignity and the observance of human rights is an essential characteristic of a democratic state under the rule of law, which gives meaning to the concepts of individual freedom and mutual respect.

The role of the NBA-HRI will be to empower lawyers to manage issues relating to the protection of the fundamental human rights of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and international instruments to which Nigeria remains a signatory. Also, to participate in the education on human rights, publish regular reports on issues relating to human rights and carry out other related functions as it relates to the Human Rights Institute.

The thrust of the theory of change under pinning the Institute’s work is that if the Human Right Institute empowers lawyers to have a better appreciation of human rights, strengthens Nigeria’s policy framework and the HRI internal processes to promote human rights, and consistently ensures government actions are human rights compliant, then rule of law is respected in Nigeria and human rights of Nigerians will be protected.

Our Niche: The NBA-HRI is primarily concerned with the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights in Nigeria and its work is predicated on the standards embodied in the various international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Nigeria in addition to existing local legislations.

The mandate of the NBA-HRI lies at the heart of the NBA’s objective of promoting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, ensuring access to justice, enhancing capacity building and skills development on human rights issues, advocating for social, economic and political rights, amongst others.

Strategic Objectives of NBA-HRI

    • To develop human rights policies and programmes for the Nigerian Bar Association.
    • To implement and advocate for the implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights.
    • To collaborate with the Human Rights Committee of the NBA at National and Branch levels in the implementation of human rights policies and programmes.
    • To promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law.
    • To adopt and implement standards, practices, and instruments regarding human rights accepted and enacted by the comity of nations.
    • To promote and protect the independence of the Judiciary and the legal profession in Nigeria.
    • To develop programmes relating to rule of law and advocate for compliance with principles of rule of law and due process.
    • To monitor and ensure strict compliance with all court orders by governments, institutions, agencies, and individuals.
    • To gather and disseminate information concerning issues relating to human rights, judicial independence, and the rule of law.
    • To establish and maintain relations with other national, regional and international Human Rights organizations.
    • To promote the objects, principles, and aims of the Nigerian Bar Association.
    • To collaborate with other organs of the NBA in developing and improving the image and status of the NBA and members of the legal profession in Nigeria.
    • To promote compliance of Nigerian government with regional and international treaty obligations on human rights.
    • To engage in promoting accountability from public officials.