In the wake of conflict and upheaval, the establishment of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) often symbolises a commitment to justice and accountability. However, as highlighted in Renée Jeffery’s insightful article, “Transitional justice at the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal: Challenging legitimacy, credibility, and effectiveness,” this involvement can be fraught with challenges that jeopardise the very integrity of these institutions.

Nepal’s experience with transitional justice serves as a compelling case study. Following the civil war that ravaged the country between 1996 and 2006, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC) emerged as a beacon of hope, tasked with uncovering the truth behind human rights violations and ensuring accountability for the perpetrators. Yet, as Jeffery elucidates, the political nature of transitional justice processes can erode the legitimacy and effectiveness of NHRIs like the NHRC.

One of the key issues highlighted in the article is the NHRC’s entanglement in Nepal’s complex political landscape. Despite its initial successes in exposing the atrocities committed during the conflict, the NHRC has faced mounting challenges to its autonomy and credibility. Concerns over transparency in appointments, political interference, and a lack of implementation of its recommendations have cast a shadow over its effectiveness in delivering justice.

The article underscores the delicate balance that NHRIs must navigate in post-conflict settings. While they play a crucial role in documenting human rights violations and advocating for accountability, their independence is often compromised by political pressures and vested interests. In Nepal, this tension has manifested in the NHRC’s struggle to assert its authority and hold perpetrators accountable without risking retaliation from powerful actors.

Moreover, Jeffery’s analysis sheds light on the broader implications of Nepal’s experience for NHRIs worldwide. As transitional justice becomes an increasingly common feature of post-conflict societies, NHRIs must grapple with the complexities of their involvement. Without robust safeguards to protect their integrity and independence, these institutions risk becoming mere pawns in political negotiations, undermining their mandate to uphold human rights.

In conclusion, Jeffery’s article serves as a poignant reminder of the critical role that NHRIs play in transitional justice processes and the formidable challenges they face. Examining Nepal’s experience, offers valuable insights into the complexities of navigating justice in the aftermath of conflict and underscores the urgent need for greater attention to the protection of NHRIs’ legitimacy, credibility, and effectiveness.

As we reflect on Nepal’s journey towards justice, we are reminded of the imperative to uphold the principles of human rights and ensure that NHRIs remain steadfast in their commitment to truth, accountability, and dignity for all.


Renée Jeffery is a Professor of International Relations and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University.

Please click here to read the full “Transitional justice at the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal: Challenging legitimacy, credibility, and effectiveness” article published at Taylor and Francis.