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Council of Europe Congress launches tool for promoting human rights at local and regional level in Europe

34th session Strasbourg, France 27 March 2018
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Council of Europe Congress launches tool for promoting human rights at local and regional level in Europe

How can human rights be made a tangible reality at grassroots level?  This issue was debated by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 27 March 2017, with the participation of Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and Roland-François Weil, UNHCR Representative to the European Institutions.

“We all agree about the importance of involving local and regional authorities in human rights.  We also agree about the need to clarify the concrete obligations which human rights entail in practice for subnational authorities,” said Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG), Congress Spokesperson on Human Rights.  “Many successful examples have shown that integrating human rights in public policies does not necessarily demand additional resources, or involve legal or technical constraints,” he added.

The resolution adopted proposes the adoption of a handbook on human rights setting out examples of good practices already conducted in many European cities.  The first volume focuses on three particularly vulnerable categories: refugees, asylum seekers and migrants; Roma and Travellers; and LGBTI people.  It includes a presentation of the legal framework and the role which local and regional authorities can play, as well as 65 good practices implemented in over 25 countries.

This Handbook is the first in a series that will cover other groups or topics and will be complemented by an internet platform allowing other European cities to share their experiences in the field of human rights.

The initiative ties in with the Congress Human Rights Action Plan. The handbook was produced with the support of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights, and the contribution of human rights experts,

The Congress urges local and regional authorities and their administrations in Council of Europe member states to adopt and use the Handbook on Human Rights in their policies, for the benefit of their authorities’ citizens.

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