Update of Handbook on European non-discrimination law


The Agency is updating its 2011 Handbook on European non-discrimination law, in partnership with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The handbook highlights and simply summarises the key legal principles of European non-discrimination law. It is designed to assist legal practitioners who are not specialists in non-discrimination law by introducing them to the key issues. It is aimed at lawyers, judges, prosecutors, social workers and people who work with national authorities, non-governmental organisations and others who may be confronted with legal questions about discrimination. The updated version includes recent examples of relevant case law and new chapters on the issues of multiple discrimination, hate crime and hate speech.


Proper national implementation of the standards on non-discrimination, a key aspect of European human rights law, requires increased knowledge of common principles developed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the ECtHR. The ECtHR and the CCJEU have built up an impressive body of case law in the non-discrimination field. This has led to the need for an updated and accessible handbook for legal practitioners in the EU and Council of Europe member states and beyond. This will improve the capacity of national courts and law enforcement authorities to effectively counter discrimination. In addition, the handbook contributes to making access to courts easier for members of minorities and vulnerable groups who wish to complain about discrimination. It is the national level that brings non-discrimination provisions to life, and where the challenges become visible.

The handbook will also contribute to the promotion of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is based on the principles of universality and equality in order to ‘leave no one behind’. The handbook particularly promotes the sustainable development goals of achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls, reducing inequality within and among countries, and promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.


Together with the ECtHR, the Agency builds on the first handbook, one of its most popular publications. The new handbook contains extracts from European and national case law, such as key judgments and decisions delivered by the ECtHR, CJEU, CoE and UN monitoring bodies, higher national courts. These are explained using simple and accessible language. 

The publication explains key aspects of the European legal framework at the Council of Europe and European Union level. It also explains the context and background to European non-discrimination law. It outlines when differences in treatment are considered discriminatory, focusing on direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, hate crime and hate speech. It also touches on possible justifications for differential treatment.

The handbook will be published in March 2018 in English. Other language versions will follow.