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Publication date: 18 June 2013

Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2012

“The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and Action Plan were tremendous achievements,” said Morten Kjaerum. “Overall we have moved on tremendously - including in Europe - but there is still a long way to go: Today, in times of crisis, we run a high risk that these achievements fall victim to rising extreme tendencies and budget cuts.

“In the last 20 years we have travelled far, but there is still a long way to go. We have many more institutions watching over human rights than ever before. However, their independence still needs strengthening. There is a need for a stronger coherence between the diverse national bodies with a human rights remit, ensuring a comprehensive and effective coverage across the full spectrum of rights. Data on human rights and progress indicators are key to evidence-based policy making.”
Morten Kjaerum also underlined the need for addressing human rights violations where they occur – locally. He called for fully involving citizens and civil society in addressing human rights issues.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA), adopted at the World Conference in Vienna in June 1993, has become a landmark document for promoting and protecting human rights. For example, it led to an affirmation of the universality of all human rights, the realisation of human rights as a priority objective of the United Nations and a legitimate concern of the international community, and the creation of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and supporting office (OHCHR).

The high-level anniversary conference aims to examine how the achievements of the VDPA can best be used today to further strengthen the international human rights system. The event was organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights (BIM) and the European Training and Research Centre for Democracy and Human Rights of the University of Graz (UNI-ETC).

For more information see the conference website and the FRA Director's speech.