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07 Nov 2019

First ever ENNHRI intervention before Council of the EU highlights NHRIs’ contributions to realising human rights

Photo: Council of the EU building Justus Lipsius, Brussels (TPCOM/Flickr)

On 5-6 November, ENNHRI’s Senior Human Rights Officer, Dr Katrien Meuwissen, spoke to the Council of the EU Working Parties on Human Rights (COHOM) and Fundamental Rights, Citizens Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP), underlining the importance for the EU and its Member States to further develop cooperation with National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). This was the first time that NHRIs were invited to contribute to discussions in these fora.

Joint COHOM-FREMP meeting

At the joint meeting of COHOM and FREMP on 5 November, ENNHRI advocated for coherent EU requirements to establish and strengthen NHRIs in compliance with the UN Paris Principles; this includes through the new EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy at the external level and primary EU legislation at internal level.

ENNHRI also recommended the EU and its Member States further recognise NHRIs as implementation partners in relevant internal and external policy areas and processes, and to take due account of NHRI recommendations and reports. The inclusion of NHRIs in the EU’s new annual rule of law monitoring cycle was presented as a good practice, especially with the view to ensure interconnections between the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.

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Key EU actors were present during the discussion, including the European External Action Service, DG DEVCO and DG JUST, as well as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. Reflecting on ongoing cooperation and partnerships, EU actors spoke up in support of NHRIs and ENNHRI.

FREMP meeting

The FREMP meeting on 6 November addressed key fundamental rights concerns in the EU for 2020 and beyond. Dr Katrien Meuwissen shared the experiences and contributions of NHRIs and ENNHRI in three key areas: democracy and rule of law, asylum and migration and economic and social rights.

In line with the Council Conclusions of September 2019, she highlighted the importance of NHRIs as national guardians of fundamental rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. ENNHRI recommended the EU to more consistently consider NHRIs in EU fundamental rights reporting processes and to develop EU fundamental rights indicators, including for use by actors working on implementation of the Charter at the national level, such as NHRIs.

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Also, Equinet (the European Network of Equality Bodies) represented National Equality Bodies at both meetings.

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