An action plan can help address fundamental rights concerns that have been identified, through a baseline study for example.
Action plans must be drawn up in a transparent and participatory process with all relevant stakeholders. Action plans can be comprehensive ("human rights action plans") - or target specific fundamental rights concerns. In the EU, there are many examples of sector-specific action plans, such as on racism, Roma integration, discrimination, child rights, trafficking or violence against women.
In the national policy document Simply Gay (2008) the Dutch government explicitly mentioned municipalities as a partner in developing and executing policies related to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LBGT) persons.
In 2008, 18 municipalities signed a memorandum with the central government in which they agreed to explicitly include LGBT persons in their local policies. In 2011 the then new Dutch government invited to continue this national policy and invited the 50 largest Dutch municipalities to join in a nationwide network of so-called Rainbow Cities. The municipalities were offered a financial incentive by the central government. Eventually 40 municipalities decided to join and to draw up a local action plan. In all these cities, LGBT specific measures should be anchored in mainstream local policies by the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, in all 40 cities, policy initiatives and/or activities have started. Local coalitions are working on the following themes: safety; social acceptance; youth and education; formal and informal care; sports.
Involving local and regional authorities
Action plans must be tailor-made to fundamental rights situations and needs in each community. Due to their proximity to inhabitants, local authorities have rich knowledge of the fundamental rights situation in their territory and can therefore advise on measures needed to address problems.
Common monitoring framework
While fundamental rights implementation requires action at different levels and by different authorities, agreement on common targets is necessary to ensure coordination, synergy and effectiveness. This requires setting up a common monitoring framework for all stakeholders involved in the implementation of an action plan.
Walloon Government used an indicator system as basis for its action plan on social cohesion.
The Public Services Department of the Walloon Government (Service Public de Wallonie), together with the Walloon Institute of Assessment, Forecasting and Statistics (Institut Wallon de l'Évaluation, de la Prospective et de la Statistique), developed an access to fundamental rights indicator. This indicator was used to assess and analyse the situation in each municipality in Wallonia. Subsequently an action plan was drawn and approved by the Government to respond to the situation in each municipality.
The indicator looks at six aspects of fundamental rights:
- the right to a decent income;
- the right to health care, medical assistance and social aid;
- the right to decent housing and a safe environment;
- the right to work;
- the right to vocational training;
- the right to cultural and social development.
This is complemented by a risk factor looking at access to fundamental rights for three specific groups at risk:
- single parent families;
- people above the age of 65;
- asylum seekers.
Source: Interview Patrick Charlier, Centre pour l’égalité des Chances et la Lutte Contre la Racisme 2011, Brussels, Belgium
National and local action plans In the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted in June 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights recommended that countries consider drawing up a national action plan. The plan should identify steps to improve the promotion and protection of human rights. Some countries, such as Finland, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden, have devised national action plans or plans related to specific areas of fundamental rights. The United Nations has published examples of national human rights plans of action and a handbook on how to draw up a national action plan.
The 10-Points Action Plan by the European Coalition of Cities against Racism is an example of a framework for local action plans. Adopted on 10 December 2004, the Action Plan remains open for signature by European cities wishing to join the Coalition of Cities against Racism on the basis of these commitments. The signatory cities undertake to integrate the Plan of Action within their strategies and action programmes and to commit to it the human, financial and material resources required for its effective implementation. Each city authority is free to choose the policies it judges most relevant or most urgent.