ENNHRI’s 10th anniversary conference:

Advancing human rights, democracy and rule of law at a critical time in Europe: the role of NHRIs and ENNHRI

10 October 2023, Brussels

About

2023 is a milestone year for the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI): the network turns 10! To mark this, ENNHRI held an anniversary conference on 10 October 2023 in Brussels. This was an ideal time to take stock of and celebrate what NHRIs have achieved – individually and collectively – to promote and protect human rights and how the network contributed to this.

Partnerships have been central to the last decade’s accomplishments, which have come in an often difficult environment for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. With heads of NHRIs, regional partners and civil society gathered together, the event was also the perfect moment to reflect on how NHRIs and Europe’s wider human rights community can tackle future challenges. Together.

Event details

Gathering leading figures from Europe’s human rights community, the conference considered how we can advance human rights, democracy and the rule of law throughout Europe, and the central role of NHRIs and ENNHRI in doing so.

Two keynote speeches set the scene. These came from Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ingrid Bellander-Todino, Head of Unit – Fundamental Rights Policy at the EU’s DG Justice and Consumers (stepping in for Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for Transparency and Values). Interactive panel discussions then dove further into the day’s main topics, with an evening reception then closing the conference.

The conference venue was the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium (the entrance at Rue Du Musée 5). An ENNHRI General Assembly took place the day before. 

Relive the event

See below photos taken during the General Assembly on 9 October and the 10th anniversary conference on 10 October.

ENNHRI 10th anniversary event

See a series of illustrations created by Julia Hoffman, a visual harvester, that illustrate the debates and key topics of the conference.

Relive the event

Go to our Flickr account to see photos taken during the General Assembly on 9 October and the 10th anniversary conference on 10 October.

Speakers 

Leading figures from the world of human rights spoke at our conference. They were:

Věra Jourová –
Keynote speech

European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency

Dunja Mijatović –
Keynote speech

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Sirpa Rautio

ENNHRI Chair, Director Finnish Human Rights Centre

Debbie Kohner

ENNHRI Secretary-General

Christophe Poirel

Director Human Rights, Council of Europe

Francesca Fanucci

 Senior Legal Advisor, European Center for Non-Profit Law

Michel Forst

Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders under the Aarhus Convention, UN Economic Commission for Europe

Dmytro Lubinets

 Commissioner for Human Rights Ukraine

Peter Svetina

 Human Rights Ombudsman Slovenia

Sinéad Gibney

 Chief Commissioner Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Beate Rudolf

Director German Institute for Human Rights

Elena Kountouri Tapiero

 Acting Regional Representative for Europe, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Europe

Nils Muižnieks

Director Europe, Amnesty International

Rick Lawson

Vice-Chair Management Board, EU Fundamental Rights Agency

Programme

13.30 – 13.40

Welcome

Sirpa Rautio, ENNHRI Chair

13.40 – 14.30

Keynotes speeches and moderated discussion with the audience

Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission

Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights Council of Europe

14.30 – 15.50

Panel

Panel: Bolstering Strong Institutions, Civic Space and Human Rights, in a Context of War and Securitization in Europe

NHRI leaders:

  • Beate Rudolf, Director German Institute for Human Rights
  • Dmytro Lubinets, Commissioner for Human Rights Ukraine

Regional counterparts:

  • Elena Kountouri Tapiero, Acting Regional Representative for Europe, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Europe
  • Nils Muižnieks, Director Europe, Amnesty International
  • Rick Lawson, Vice-Chair Management Board, EU Fundamental Rights Agency

Interactive Discussion with the Audience

15.50 – 16.20

Break

16.20 – 17.50

Panel

Addressing emerging human rights challenges, including in the context of digitalization, artificial intelligence and climate change

NHRI leaders:

  • Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
  • Peter Svetina, Human Rights Ombudsman Slovenia

Regional counterparts:

  • Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders under the Aarhus Convention, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • Christophe Poirel, Director Human Rights, Council of Europe
  • Francesca Fanucci, Senior Legal Advisor, European Center for Non-Profit Law

Interactive Discussion with the Audience

17.50 – 18.00

Concluding remarks

Debbie Kohner, ENNHRI Secretary-General

18.00 – 19.00

Celebratory Reception with Speeches

Alan Miller, initial ENNHRI Chair, former Chair of Scottish NHRI

Lora Vidović, second ENNHRI Chair, former Ombudswoman of Croatia

More on TENNHRI

A new webpage tells our 10th anniversary story and allows you to experience the common journey of ENNHRI and NHRIs.  Discover:

    • How ENNHRI and the European NHRI family has grown over the last 10 years;
    • Testimonies from NHRIs on how ENNHRI membership has positively impacted them;
    • Key achievements of ENNHRI’s Working Groups and how they are joining forces for common action;
    • Three rousing stories of how NHRIS are collaborating to drive positive human rights change.
    • Milestones where NHRIs have set themselves apart and been recognised as key European human rights actors
    • Our vision for the future and how we can maximise NHRIs’ ability to promote and protect human rights by working together.

Since 2013, we have been supporting, strengthening and connecting NHRIs to enhance the promotion and protection of Human Rights across Europe. Our members make us who we are.

As the network marks its tenth anniversary year, a video captures what being part of ENNHRI means for its member NHRIs and their work.

As a diverse network, ENNHRI represents something slightly different to all of its members. Their diversity of perspectives is what makes the network so rich.

Watch our video to learn more about their unique perspectives.