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It is essential to have access to independent experts and specialists in technical fields. For example, public officials could consult experts from non-governmental organisations or academic entities. The credibility of the sourced information is enhanced if its provider is independent from political or external influences.
In the framework of the European AHEAD Project (Against Homophobia. European Local Administration Devices), the Research Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of Turin (CIRSDE) took part in research studying the positive actions that local governments can launch to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
On International Day Against Homophobia, on 17 May 2012, the city’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Office invited a researcher from the CIRSDE to speak to the members of the City Council Assembly.
Inviting a competent academic expert to present research results added value and authority to the call for action to implement the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, and to combat discrimination against them.
Source: Interview with Eufemio Gianluca Truppa, National Secretariat of the RE.A.DY. Network, 2012, City of Turin Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Office, Italy.
Using experts for training
Public officials including elected representatives can benefit from independent expertise and know-how on fundamental rights. Experts – whether from academia, national human rights institutions, other governmental structures, or grassroots organisations – can be a valuable resource and testimonies for awareness raising, training and the education of public officials.
Understanding community needs
Experts who work at grassroots levels – for example lawyers providing legal aid to victims – often have an advantage as intermediaries when dealing with individuals who are vulnerable to rights violations. Such experience will also help public officials better understand community needs and the practical challenges of implementing a fundamental rights initiative. The experience of an individual working at the grassroots level on a specific fundamental rights challenge can also make a very convincing testimony.
Fundamental rights initiatives can also benefit from specialist technical knowledge. A specialist can back up and help improve a fundamental rights initiative with evidence and technical expertise. Evidence-based arguments can better convince superiors, colleagues and stakeholders to champion a fundamental rights cause. The involvement of technical experts also increases the chances of successfully implementing an activity.
There are many academic networks in Europe to tap into.
IMISCOE is a Research Network on international migration, integration and social cohesion. It pools research, training and communication resources from academic institutions dealing with migrations studies. For more information see: IMISCOE Research Network
The European Academic Network on Romani studies is a joint action between the Council of Europe and the European Union. It was created with the aim to facilitate intercultural dialogue and support efforts towards the social inclusion of Romani citizens in Europe. The project seeks to foster cooperation with policy makers. Its publications, seminars and membership can be useful for public officials dealing with Roma issues. For more information see: European Academic Network on Romani studies