Human rights cities in the European Union - Practical guidance

This guide can help cities wishing to improve their efforts to respect human rights. It aims to encourage local authorities to adopt higher human rights standards. The idea is to encourage and foster mutual learning on human and fundamental rights. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), a group of human rights cities and various practitioners in the EU worked together to produce this guide. The guide draws on the promising practices and experiences of cities, regions, experts, international organisations and networks that can be found in the FRA report Human rights cities in the EU: A framework for reinforcing rights locally.

The framework for human rights cities looks at the foundations, structures and tools that can help cities integrate human rights in a holistic and sustainable way in their work. It compiles the necessary elements which can be applied in a flexible way, adapted to the local context and the city’s resources. The tools support the structures, which in turn integrate the foundations - the rights and principles – into the city’s work.

The framework in a nutshell

Foundations - City commitments to human rights

  • Commit to respect, protect and fulfil the rights and freedoms in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU law
  • Commit to protect, respect and fulfil international human rights standards
  • Commit to the UN’s SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Commit to contribute to international monitoring mechanisms

Structures - Mechanisms and procedures to help integrate human rights into day-to-day work

  • Adopt a declaration to affirm the city’s commitment to human rights
  • Nominate an elected representative on human rights
  • Establish a human rights office or department
  • Establish a consultative participatory council on human rights
  • Establish an anti-discrimination office or local ombudsperson
  • Report annually on human rights in the city
  • Cooperate and develop partnerships with national, EU and international human rights bodies

Tools - Methods and resources to support human rights work

  • Mainstream human rights across city work and activities
  • Apply a human rights-based approach across city activities
  • Develop knowledge through training and human rights education
  • Take human rights into account in the budgeting and procurement processes 
  • Establish and implement a local human rights action plan
  • Check the compatibility of local decisions with human rights
  • Raise people’s awareness about human rights
  • Monitor and evaluate the city’s work in a participatory way
  • Cooperate transnationally and contribute to the peer-to-peer exchange and mutual learning between cities on human rights