Human rights policy in the right frame
More than 100 leading human rights researchers and practitioners have joined forces in a new EU-funded project which aims to provide the necessary building blocks for coherent EU human rights policies, both inside the Union and abroad.
The rights of every individual within the European Union are enshrined in its Charter of Fundamental Rights which describes the treatment Europeans should expect under six titles: dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens' rights, and justice.
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values, according to the EU's External Action Service (EEAS), and thus considered 'universal and indivisible'. Human rights must be actively promoted and defended both within the Union's borders and when engaging with non-EU countries, notes the EEAS on its website.
While Europeans can take comfort that their rights are being protected under the Charter, citizens in other parts of the world may not all be so fortunate. This is where the EU-backed FRAME ('Fostering Human Rights Among European - external and internal - Policies') project enters the picture.
Launched in May 2013, this multidisciplinary project led by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies (GGS), from Katholieke University Leuven (KUL, Belgium) represents a consortium of 19 internationally recognised and globally networked human rights institutes Europe-wide, together with strategic partners elsewhere in the world.
With more than EUR 6.4 million in EU funding, the ambitious project aims to provide the necessary building blocks for coherent EU human rights policies. The study starts by stocktaking the institutions, instruments, knowledge, concepts and factors underlying human rights protection.
The researchers plan to evaluate the EU's potential to contribute to global human rights governance through its relationship with multiple actors and its manifold policies. The goal is to produce a set of indicators, tools and policy proposals geared to strengthening human rights implementation in Union policy-making.
Through four research clusters, FRAME plans to offer creative solutions which enhance the coherence and effectiveness of EU human rights policy.
One cluster is examining the key factors helping or hindering human rights protection. This work will further explore human rights subjects, democracy and the rule of law, and where human rights institutions and instruments at global, regional and national level fit in.
A second cluster is addressing the EU's human rights engagement on the international scene - the United Nations, regional multilateral organisations, strategic partnerships with third countries and non-state actors - as well as the relationship between EU institutions and Member States.
Another team will aim to hone related EU policies on development and trade, human rights violations in conflicts, freedom, security and justice, and external human rights and democratisation.
A final cluster will focus on developing indicators, tools and policy proposals, including benchmarking, to monitor and improve the effectiveness of EU human rights policy.
According to the project team, FRAME's vital impact on human rights research, education and policy innovation will continue beyond the project's lifetime, which is scheduled to end in April 2017.
Project factsheet cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/108540_en.html