National Human Rights Institutions (nhris) have rapidly proliferated worldwide in the last twenty years. They play an important role in the implementation of international human rights standards at the domestic level. Examples, especially from the African and Asian regions show that the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) relates to the work of nhris. Some institutions were established as one of the outcomes of peace processes in order to advance reconciliation and prevent future abuses. Where nhris already exist, the institutions may promote and protect human rights in each phase of the R2P. This paper discusses what role nhris can take up in assisting governments, the international community, and people before, during and after crisis situations. Through concrete country examples, it also highlights the challenges that the institutions must face, and summarises the limits of their influence.