“Council of Europe and the role of National Human Rights Institutions, Equality bodies and Ombudsman offices in promoting equality and social inclusion”

Council of Europe Conference organised in cooperation with the Finland's National Human Rights Institution* (Finnish NHRI)
10-11 December 2015
Venue: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland

The National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies and Ombudsman offices play a crucial role on the national level in improving access to rights and ensuring the implementation of national and international policies, laws and commitments. Therefore, it is important for governments and the Council of Europe as a pan-European actor to support these bodies to improve access to rights and, in turn, strengthen the fight against discrimination, stereotypes and violence.

The event focuses on good examples on how national human rights bodies can work together to break boundaries and remove stereotypes existing in societies in order to enable access to all human rights by all persons. It also aims at discussing the extent to which national bodies can support international and regional intergovernmental organisations, and vice versa, in their work against stereotypes and discrimination and improve the state of Human Rights in Europe.

The event is aimed at representatives of the Council of Europe member States, National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies and Ombudsmen offices and their networks, International organisations, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), European Institute for Gender Equality  (EIGE), national, regional and local NGOs, as well as civil society and related networks.


The conference will serve as the 2nd thematic event to implement the terms of reference of the CDDECS to “contribute to the promotion of solidarity and protection of human dignity, equality and equal opportunities for all, and the prevention and combatting of violence and discrimination on any ground”. The first such event was organised in Inari, Finland in November 2014 entitled “Sami, the people, the culture and the languages”.

* Finland's National Human Rights Institution consists of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Human Rights Centre and its Human Rights Delegation. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are independent and autonomous statutory bodies that promote and protect human rights. They have to fulfil the Paris Principles outlined by the UN. According to the Paris Principles, national human rights institutions should e.g. be autonomous, independent and have a pluralist and broad-based composition. The Finnish NHRI was accredited with the highest possible status (A status) in December 2014. NHRIs that are granted an A status have the right to speak at the UN Human Rights Council as well as right to vote in the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC).

What happened at the Conference....


Opening and Welcome

  Watch the video


 Session I

Stereotypes and Discrimination – Obstacles to Social Inclusion

  Watch the video

Read Speakers' presentations

  • Dimitrina Petrova

Stereotypes, structural inequality and human rights

  • Joshua Rozenberg

 Media, Stereotypes and politics

Media, Stereotypes and politics


  • Jonas Gunnarsson

Discrimination, intolerance and hate speech

  • Petr Polák

Discrimination in Europe

  • Kyungsook Lee

Older women and multiple discrimination

  • George-Konstantinos Charonis

Youth against multiple discrimination

  • Klaus Heusslein

Youth, Stereotypes and Discrimination in Sports


 Session II

Human Rights Education – Know your rights, use your knowledge

Read Speakers' presentations

  • Kristiina Kouros

National Baseline Study on Human Rights Education


  • Maria Løkke Rasmussen

Human Rights Education Toolbox

  • Frank Elbers

HRE 2020 - Human Rights Education and Education Indicator Framework


  RIGHTSINFO – an Innovative Way of Explaining Human Rights *


  HELP - Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals  ** 



 Session III

National Bodies – Independent but cooperative

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Read Speakers' presentations

  • Morten Kjaerum

National Human Rights Structures - to promote and to protect

  • Petri Jääskeläinen

Ombudsmen making impact on the lives of individual citizens

  • Ruth Gallagher

National Human Rights Bodies - One Structure for all


  • Thomas Schwarz

FRA and the EU promoting and supporting national structures


CLARITY ***– to find the right body to help you


Session IV

NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION PLANS  - To systematically plan and to guide

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Read Speakers' presentations


  • Lauri Sivonen

  National Human Rights Action Plans and systematic human rights work


  • Mariam Jajanidze

National Strategy on Human Rights and Action Plan for its implementation


  • Deaglán O’Briain

Specific Nationa Inclusion Strategies and National Human Rights Regime


 Session V

IMPLEMENTING AND MEASURING IMPACT – Concrete results of Human Rights Work

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Read Speakers' presentations

  • Ingrid Nicoletti

 Graz - the First Human Rights City of Europe


  • Helena Morais Maceira

Providing tools for decision makers on gender based violence


  • Liisa Murto

Implementing rights of persons with disabilities in practice

  • Marc Verlot

Is Britain Fairer? - Assessing Developments in Equality and Human Rights


  • Nicola Browne

  Grassroots evaluation of effectiveness of Human Rights' implementation

  • Johanna Suurpää

Cross-governmental coordination and cooperation with NGOs and civil society in preparation and implementation of the NHRAP

  • Pauli Rautiainen

Evaluation and follow up of the implementation of NHRAP




* (As a basic requirement for using ones human rights is the knowledge of those rights. Rightsinfo is an award winning online site which was launched in April 2015. It has received over 500,000 page views since then. RightsInfo is about bringing human rights to life using beautiful infographics, stories and social media. The project is the brainchild of leading barrister Adam Wagner, founder of the acclaimed UK Human Rights Blog. In 2015, RightsInfo won the prestigious Plain English Communicator Award. RightsInfo is also about using social media to find new ways to talk about and deliver human rights stories and information. We believe there is huge potential to do a better job at explaining why human rights matter and how they can change people’s lives.)

** (HELP is the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals. It supports the Council of Europe (CoE) member states in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) at the national level, in accordance with the Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2004) 4, the 2010 Interlaken Declaration and the 2012 Brighton Declaration. This is done enhancin the capacity of judges, lawyers and prosecutors in all 47 member states to apply the ECHR in their daily work.)

*** Clarity is an interactive online tool. Its pilot version was launched by FRA in October 2015.  Clarity, which stands for the ‘Complaints, Legal Assistance and Rights Information Tool for You’, allows users to easily access information on non-judicial bodies dealing with their particular fundamental rights issue(s) in a given EU Member State.

More about the Conference


   Gianluca Esposito
Previews Helsinki Human Rights Conference

Watch the Video

“We need more, not less, Human Rights; we need more, not less, social inclusion”

Read his opening speech


Picture gallery (to follow)