Systems

Support for human rights systems and defenders

Many organisations work to defend your rights. We help their efforts with independent evidence, advice and expertise.

We support their frontline work. And we shine a light on potential risks and priority areas. Together we make your rights a reality.

Highlights

  • Report / Paper / Summary
    19
    December
    2023
    All EU funds must be spent in a way that respect fundamental rights. The EU spends billions of euros on creating jobs, economic growth, sustainable development and improving people’s lives. To prevent funds from being spent in ways that directly violate people’s fundamental rights, the EU strengthened the conditions how funds can be spent in 2021. This report looks at how the newly introduced conditions related to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be upheld in practice. It analyses the potential role of national human rights institutions, ombudsperson institutions and equality bodies. These safeguards can advance compliance with fundamental rights.
  • Periodic updates / Series
    6
    February
    2024
    The 2024 update on NHRIs accreditation status and mandates also covers their engagement in the monitoring of fundamental rights compliance in the use of EU funds at national level. Moreover, the update also shows how NHRIs make use of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in their work when advising government or in education, training and awareness raising activities. Since its 2020 report 'Strong and effective national human rights institutions – challenges, promising practices and opportunities', the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has been regularly tracking the accreditation status and mandates of NHRIs.
  • Periodic updates / Series
    18
    October
    2023
    Civil society organisations struggle to maintain an environment safe from threats and attacks. FRA’s sixth annual update on civic space explores the challenges for organisations across the EU. While there has been significant development since FRA began monitoring the situation in 2018, civil society organisations remain under immense pressure. Abusive lawsuits and attacks against those involved in migrant search and rescue at sea are just some of the challenges identified. This report presents ways forward to protect civil society and human rights.
  • Report / Paper / Summary
    11
    October
    2021
    This report proposes a framework for becoming, and functioning as, a ‘human rights city’ in the EU. It includes ‘foundations’, ‘structures’ and ‘tools’ for mayors, local administrations and grassroots organisations to reinforce fundamental rights locally. It is based on existing good practice and expert input by representatives of human rights cities in the EU, academic experts, international organisations and city networks.
Products
On 23 February 2021, FRA’s Director, Michael O’Flaherty, listened to fundamental rights concerns and discussed ways to solve them. The second Fundamental Rights Dialogue invited young people to participate in shaping our societies, placing human rights centre stage.
On 13 November, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) hosted its first Fundamental Rights Dialogue - a virtual event that gave young people an opportunity to voice their fundamental rights concerns and discussed ways to solve them with FRA's Director Michael O'Flaherty.
Key statements from the FRA/Euractiv online event Reinforcing the EU Charter: rights of people in the EU in the next decade, 7 December 2020.
16
December
2020
All language versions now available
20 July 2021
The EU is founded on the values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. Yet these values, and discussions on fundamental rights at the EU and Member State level, can seem remote in people’s daily lives. With this in mind, FRA explored what people understand, know and experience with respect to their fundamental rights in practice. The resulting data provide comprehensive and comparable evidence on these aspects.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic leaves a lasting mark on society worldwide. It affected everyone but some people more than others. As we look ahead, on Human Rights Day, on 10 December, we need to make the new normal a better normal. In his video message, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty underlines the need to stand up for human rights to make 2021 a better year. This means ensuring we respect and take into account everybody's human rights.
30
November
2020
This report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health as Europe faces the ‘second wave’ of the Coronavirus pandemic. It highlights how these may affect fundamental rights, especially social rights.
This video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the 2020 General conference of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR): “CommunicAction – A common front to protect human rights at the local level”.
This video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform: ''Connectivity between regional and global human rights mechanisms".
This video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the e-conference "70 years of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: challenges and prospects".
3
September
2020
Summary version now available
21 January 2021
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are a vital part of the country-level human rights protection system. This report, published 10 years after FRA’s first in-depth study on NHRIs, looks at such bodies in the EU, as well as the Republic of North Macedonia, the Republic of Serbia, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It explores relevant developments, challenges to their effectiveness and ways to maximise their impact.
The Agency cooperates with the EEA and Norway Grants as a strategic partner in the protection, promotion and fulfillment of fundamental rights.
The cooperation aims to support the design and implementation of EEA and Norway Grants funded programmes and projects in selected EU Member States. It also aims to raise awareness on fundamental rights, combating social exclusion and discrimination, and supporting related civil society initiatives.
29
July
2020
As we enter the second half of 2020, the constraints on our daily lives brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic have become a firm reality. New local lockdowns and the reintroduction of restrictive measures prompted by fresh outbreaks of the virus are a stark reminder that COVID-19 continues to shape our lives – and our enjoyment of fundamental rights – in profound ways. There is compelling evidence of how the pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges in our societies. This FRA Bulletin outlines some of the measures EU Member States adopted to safely reopen their societies and economies while continuing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It highlights the impact these measures may have on civil, political and socioeconomic rights.
28
July
2020
This paper presents key findings from FRA’s second consultation of its Fundamental Rights Platform, focusing on the experiences of civil society organisations (CSOs) working on human rights. FRA started an annual consultation with organisations participating in its platform in 2018.
This video was produced for the launch of the Fundamental Rights Survey in June 2020 and gives an overview of the main results.
Michael O'Flaherty introduces the July edition of FRA's bulletin on the impact for fundamental rights of Covid-19. In this vlog he talks about the important role that people play who are engaged with the promotion and the protection of human rights in these times.
The July edition of the COVID-19 bulletin will be available from 30 July.
24
June
2020
Summary version now available
07 December 2020
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey collected data from 35,000 people about their experiences, perceptions and opinions on a range of issues that are variously encompassed by human rights. This report presents a small selection of the survey results. It focuses on findings with respect to respondents’ opinions about human – or fundamental rights; their views and perceptions on the functioning of democratic societies – as a pillar on which human rights can flourish; and on their thoughts on and engagement with public services that have a duty to enforce human rights law and to protect people’s rights.
19
June
2020
In 2019, the International Organization for Migration estimated that 1,866 people have died or gone missing while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe to escape war or persecution or to pursue a better life. This is an average of five people per day. In recent years, a significant proportion of migrants in distress at sea have been rescued by civil society vessels deployed with a humanitarian mandate to reduce fatalities and bring rescued migrants to safety. Since 2018, however, authorities in some EU Member States started viewing civil society-deployed rescue vessels with hostility. As a reaction, national authorities initiated about 40 administrative and criminal proceedings against crew members or vessels, including seizing the latter. In some cases, rescue vessels were blocked in harbours due to flag issues or the inability to meet technical requirements.
In his latest vlog Michael O'Flaherty introduces FRA's survey of 35,000 people on attitudes to human and fundamental rights.
11
June
2020
This focus takes a closer look at the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which has been legally binding for 10 years. At EU level, it has gained visibility and sparked a new fundamental rights culture. At national level, awareness and use of the Charter are limited. Courts increasingly use the Charter, showing the impact of this modern instrument. But its use by governments and parliaments remains low. For instance, there is little indication of anyone regularly scrutinising national legislation that transposes EU law for compatibility with the Charter.
11
June
2020
Now available in Macedonian and Serbian
13 November 2020
The year 2019 brought both progress and setbacks in terms of fundamental rights protection. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2020 reviews major developments in the field, identifying both achievements and remaining areas of concern. This publication presents FRA’s opinions on the main developments in the thematic areas covered, and a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions. In so doing, it provides a compact but informative overview of the main fundamental rights challenges confronting the EU and its Member States.
Fundamental Rights Report 2019: Implementing fundamental and human rights helps create a sustainable future.
Here the EU plays a key role.
In the latest edition of his video blog, FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty focuses on press freedom and the importance of an independent media for the society.
This video blog by FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty is released periodically and will address burning fundamental rights themes.
FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty focuses on ways to push back against challenges to our human rights system.
In this third edition of his video blog FRA Director, Michael O'Flaherty, focuses on bolstering our human rights communications to underline why human rights matter to us all.
FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty speaks about the role of civil society and the FRA’s mechanism for cooperation with civil society, the Fundamental Rights Platform. “A healthy civil society is vital for the protection and promotion of fundamental rights. (…) Without civil society, we are not able to achieve our goals, we are not able to deliver our results. (…) We can cooperate to ensure that our Europe of values remains and gets ever stronger.”
This video message by Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was recorded on the occasion of FRA's 10th anniversary.
In 2017 and beyond, the Fundamental Rights Agency will focus on today’s most urgent human rights quandaries, from migration and asylum, through xenophobia and discrimination, to the very contemporary challenges of privacy, surveillance and hate speech in the digital age.
FRA organised an information session on its data explorers. The session provided an overview of available datasets, and explained how to search, visualise or export the data. More than 40 representatives of national authorities across the EU joined the presentation.
On 8 and 9 June, the FRA Director met with Spanish government officials in the run-up to the Presidency of the Council of the EU in Madrid.
The European Commission and FRA hosted a seminar on ‘Supporting civil society organisations and human rights defenders through funding’ on 19 June in Brussels.
FRA launched a major new version of its European Fundamental Rights Information System – EFRIS.
FRA presented its ongoing work on a report on human rights defenders’ access to the EU at the annual meeting of the EU Temporary Relocation Platform.
Fundamental rights have weathered multiple storms recently as various crises impact Europe and the wider world. Participants at a high-level conference drew lessons from crises, past and present, and charted a way forward to make human rights structures more resilient.
FRA took part in the regular meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies Heads of Communication
FRA had its annual Directors level meeting with the EEA and Norway Grants in Oslo on 5 June.
The impact of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, rising child poverty, widespread hate and protecting rights in the face of technological change are just some of the pressing human rights issues in FRA’s 2023 Fundamental Rights Report. With a focus section on the impact of the aggression within the EU, the report examines the support and solidarity provided by governments, local authorities and society. It suggests how EU countries can better ensure effective protection, especially for women who fled the conflict and need targeted support.
The EU & International Affairs Committee of the Law Society of Ireland invited FRA’s Director to deliver a speech in Dublin on 15 May.
FRA met online with member organisations of the European Youth Forum to consult on their civic space challenges.
FRA spoke at a European Commission seminar on protecting civic space on 10 May in Brussels.
On 26 April, FRA joined a webinar on the role of local governments policies based in human rights.
FRA took part in a network meeting of EU Agencies Heads of Communication and Information.
FRA took part in a network meeting of EU Agencies Heads of Communication and Information.
FRA attended a conference organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on ‘Civil society organisations defending and strengthening European democracy’.
On 30 and 31 March, FRA participated at the International Public Information Directors Roundtable in Stockholm.
FRA held a hybrid meeting with NHRIs and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) from 21 to 22 March. FRA also invited its National Liaison Officers and EU Charter Focal Points.
FRA developed practical guidance for cities to help them improve their efforts to respect human rights.
FRA held its regular meeting with the National Liaison Officers (NLOs) online on 23 March.
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A high-level conference on institutional protection of fundamental rights in times of crises will take place in Lund from 20 to 21 April. It will provide a forum to discuss how structures to protect fundamental rights in the European Union can be made more robust and resilient in times of crises. The event aims to explore what can we learn from crises, past and present, and how can we best move forward. The event will be live streamed.
On 25 April, FRA will hold one of its monthly webinars for civil society organisations participating in the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP).
On 30 March, FRA will deliver the keynote address opening day 2 of the Media Freedom Rapid Response Summit (MFRR).
On 21 March, FRA will host a hybrid event on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for a group of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).
FRA will join a policy debate on protecting civil society and defending democracy hosted by the European Civic Forum.
FRA will speak at this year’s Civil Society Days of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
FRA Director, Michael O’Flaherty, will deliver a video message at the closing conference of the 2023 edition of the Human Rights go local Winter Academy.
FRA’s Director will meet the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on 6 February in Geneva.
On 12 December, FRA will speak at the online seminar in Turku about Human Rights Cities and its framework for localizing human rights.
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The Agency’s Executive Board and Management Board will meet in Vienna on 15 and 16 December.
FRA will speak at the official opening of the International Human Rights Day celebration ‘Dignity, Equality, Solidarity’ in Warsaw on 9 December.
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Once again, FRA is cooperating with this year’s 'this human world', Vienna’s international human rights film festival. FRA supports the screening of three films on human rights.

On 21 November, FRA will hold a virtual lecture for students of the European University of Cyprus.
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FRA’s Director will visit the Council of Europe from 15 to 16 November in Strasbourg.
On 8 November, FRA will host a delegation from the Fundamental Rights Sector Coordination (FRSC) Project in Turkey’s European Affairs Directorate.
The annual meeting of the Fundamental Rights Platform will take place online on 10 November.
On 21 October, FRA will add concluding remarks during a launch event on how cities operationalise the Leave no one behind principle in their local policies.
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FRA will hold its regular meeting with the National Liaison Officers in Vienna.
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From 6 to 7 October, FRA will host an expert event on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in Vienna.
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FRA’s Director will visit the Council of Europe on 10-11 October in Strasbourg.