FRA speaks on promoting and supporting national human rights bodies

FRA took part in a conference on the role of national human rights bodies in promoting equality and social inclusion, organised by the Council of Europe, the Finnish Human Rights Centre, and the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland on 10-11 December in Helsinki. The conference discussed ways in which national human rights bodies can work together to break boundaries and remove stereotypes to improve the enjoyment of fundamental rights for everyone in Europe.

Speaking during the panel ‘National bodies – independent but cooperative’, Thomas Schwarz, the Deputy Head of FRA’s Communications and Outreach Department, said that current challenges such as migration, refugee protection, inclusion and digital security, call for closer and more active cooperation between all relevant organisations and institutions.

In this difficult time for fundamental rights, we need more than contact. We need to act together on issues that are calling into question Europe’s raison d’être in ways we have not seen since the Second World War,” he said. “So the cooperation between the organisations with a human rights remit, whether they are international, national or regional and whether governmental or third-sector has to change and expand.”

In debating means of promoting equality, participants discussed the main obstacles to social inclusion and the role of human rights education in combating stereotypes and discrimination. Experiences in developing and implementing national action plans on human rights were shared, as well as good practices for monitoring them. The second day of the conference focused particularly on the best means of implementing strategies to protect human rights at the national and local level, as well as evaluating and measuring their impact.

FRA has stepped up its work on migration in response to the EU’s current humanitarian crisis. Findings of FRA’s project on the participation of migrants and their descendants in EU society will be available in early 2016.