UN Human Rights Commissioner expresses support for the work of FRA during his visit

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and FRA Director, Michael O'Flaherty
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and FRA Director, Michael O'Flaherty
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, shared with FRA staff his concerns for human rights during his visit to FRA in Vienna on 29 April. He stressed the importance of FRA’s work, speaking of how there is an urgent need to ensure respect for human rights in these challenging times.

The meeting was an opportunity for the High Commissioner to exchange views with FRA staff about specific areas of the agency’s work of relevance to human rights internationally. Here FRA focused on four key areas:

  1. the alignment of the agency’s work on the rights of people with disabilities with the UN’s disability convention such as chairing the EU framework for promoting, protecting and monitoring disability rights and its research enabling Member States to benchmark their efforts to transform the lives of people with disabilities in line with their commitments under the UN’s disability convention;
  2. the breadth of its efforts to help tackle the migrant and refugee situation in Europe, from frontline support on the ground feeding into the work at the local, national and EU level to its opinions on legislative proposals at EU level;
  3. its survey work in line with the UN’s model of human rights indicators that gives voice to the plight of minorities groups that can also help policy makers gauge to what extent their laws and policies are improving the situation of different groups of right holders;
  4. the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Europe. As FRA’s work has shown, the EU is still not as inclusive to LGBTI people as it may seem, and it continues to work with various UN bodies to help address this.

The High Commissioner spoke of the quality of FRA’s work and his concern that often good work and telling findings do not resonate sufficiently with the policy makers that can make a difference. He also warned against the rise of populist movements targeting migrants. Once one vulnerable group is targeted, others will follow, and if we are not vigilant we may ask ourselves in years to come, how we did get to this tribalised situation?

The FRA Director reassured the High Commissioner that FRA would continue to be a strong partner for his Office, joining its efforts to promote and protect human rights in Europe and beyond.

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