On our own account
In its board meeting on 5th March 2018, the ETC General Assembly agreed on the following resolutions:
The association ETC will become part of the UNESCO Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights on the Local and Regional Levels. For this, the statute of the organisation was amended accordingly and adopted with immediate validity. The board of the ETC was newly-elected. Klaus Starl will take over the position of Chairperson, together with Gerd Oberleitner, the incumbent of the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Human Security of the University of Graz, as well as Heidi Bassin. Renate Kicker will act as the Chairperson of the Fund for the Promotion of Human Rights on the Local and Regional Levels, together in the team with Markus Uitz. Wolfgang Benedek will take over the function of Chairperson of the ETC General Assembly. Beyond these changes, the budget and the activity programme for the work of the ETC within the UNESCO Centre was decided upon. The activity programme includes the following points: the agenda of the Human Rights City of Graz; the Human Rights Region of Styria; cooperation with Human Rights Cities and Regions in Austria; capacity-development in South-East Europe; cooperation with European city networks; capacity-building in Arab cities; the training of local authorities in Africa; as well as cooperation with the global UNESCO Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Cities
(7 March 2018)
Implementing the Victims' Directive in Austria
How is the Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime implemented in Europe? ETC Graz, together with Caroline List, President of the Provincial Criminal Court Graz, and judge Elisabeth Juschitz, presented outcomes of the EU-funded VICT project and recommendations to the authories in a press conference in Graz.
After Klaus Starl's introductory words researcher Isabella Meier presented the research project carried out in 12 EU member states and explained the researchers' focus on the issues of victim identification, assessment of special protection needs and internal and external referral of victims.
Judge Elisabeth Juschitz spoke on experiences derived from the seminars with police, health service, victim support service and judiciary practitionersheld in autumn 2017 which gave the opportunity to exchange and networking.
The President of the Provincial Criminal Court, Caroline List, rounded up the recommendations derived from research and in practice: "Some of the biggest challenges in Austria are the identification of victims in health services and the interrogation with the help of interpreters that in practice very often meet difficulties". Very often these problems stem from the lack of trained personnel. Therefore, essential recommendations comprise allocating budget resources for victim identification in hospitals and health services, establishing the issue of victim protection in the curricula of all people-oriented professions and respective training of interpreters. Further recommendations suggest to improve victim protection in jail and to close the gap in supporting children who have become witnesses of violence.
(23 January, 2018)
UNESCO decides on Centre for Human Rights in Graz
Last week the 192 member states of UNESCO unanimously voted for the establishment of an international centre for the furthering of human rights on the local and regional level, located in Graz, Austria. The centre is set to become the second location worldwide with focus on human rights, next to Buenos Aires.
“The decision to establish the centre brings a very positive end to several years of negotiations”, Executive Director of the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ETC Graz) Klaus Starl is happy to report. Also Renate Kicker, Director of the Centre, adds that now an impactful “human rights cluster” is developing in the region of Styria, together with the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Human Security at the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy of the University of Graz. Gerd Oberleitner, UNESCO Chair, emphasises that through cooperation with the UNESCO Centre the networking activities of the Chair are strengthened, and thereby more recognition and internationalisation in the area of human rights can be achieved for the University of Graz.
(23 November 2017)
Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Cities in the Arab Region
The UNESCO-Abteilung Social and Human Sciences (SHS) sector with the ETC Graz and the UNESCO Cairo field office as partners with support of the Arab Institute of Human Rights as well as the UNESCO field offices in Rabat and Beirut launched the project Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Cities in the Arab Region. The inception meeting took place in Tunis on April 4 and 5, 2017. 24 participants from 17 cities discussed the road-map for implementation in the upcoming two years. In the frame of this inception meeting, a re-launch of the Arab Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination could be facilitated as well. A series of capacity-building workshops, the set-up of an information exchange platform and a network for mutual exchange and support among cities in the region have been agreed upon.
The workshop series could be started in Cairo on September 27 and 28, organized by UNESCO Cairo and implemented again in partnership with the ETC Graz and UNESCO SHS Paris. The workshop was held interactively, where participants from 12 cities in 6 Arab countries exchanged their views on city planning, municipal service provision, procurement and other core municipal functions with the focus of Leave No One Behind as set out in the New Urban Agenda. Among the results of this workshop, participants stressed two key topics as being urgently addressed by the project, namely irregular settlements with all their human rights consequences in education, health, housing, particularly for women and children, and transparency, access to information of citizens and their participation in municipal decision-making.
The next workshops are planned in Graz, Athens, Amman, in Lebanon, as well as in Morocco.
Some impressions from the Cairo event:
Fundamental Rights Report 2017: FRA opinions
Following the Fundamental Rights Report 2017 which was published in May the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency now presented the FRA opinions in 24 European languages.
Diverse efforts at both EU and national levels sought to bolster fundamental rights protection in 2016, while some measures threatened to undermine such protection. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2017 reviews major developments in the field, identifying both achievements and remaining areas of concern.
This publication presents FRA’s opinions on the main developments in the thematic areas covered, and a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions. In so doing, it provides a compact but informative overview of the main fundamental rights challenges confronting the EU and its Member States.
NOTICE: On 20 October 2017 ETC Graz, FRA's National Focal Point in Austria, and Uni-ETC, in cooperation with the Fundamental Rights Agency and the Dean's Office, Faculty of Law at the University of Graz, organise the lecture and discussion MENSCHENRECHTSSCHUTZ IN DER EU: Die Umsetzung der EU-Grundrechtecharta in den Mitgliedstaaten at Graz University (in German).
(30 June 2017)
Bridging the gap between policies and reality: FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2017
In spite of new fundamental rights laws and policies fundamental rights challenges still remain and rights are under attack. This underlines the lack of a fundamental rights culture across institutions and societies, as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reveals in its 2017 Fundamental Rights Report.
(31 May 2017)
One Billion Rising: The people of Graz dance against violence
ONE BILLION RISING was created to show strength to the entire world and to demonstrate how many people are in solidarity with one another across all borders. Every year on February 14th activists take to the streets and DANCE – not coincidentally on the Day of Love, as violence against women is often committed by those closest to them.
ONE BILLION dancing women and men – this is the image that should go through the world. In Graz, Brigitte Hinteregger representing the Independent Women’s Representative Collective/Women’s Council of Graz and Gabriele Metz, leader of the Graz Ombudsman’s Office for Women and Girls for the first time organized One Billion Rising 2017 together. The event was well-visited; several participants also took part in the choreographies presented by the dancers of the New Middle School Lassnitzhöhe and the Student’s Union of the University of Graz. The non-dancers listened to the solidarity addresses by the honorary chairpersons and cooperation partners in the freezing weather
(15 February 2017)
Website: One Billion Rising Graz...
No election campaign on the expense of human rights!
The Human Rights Council of the City of Graz presents the preliminary results of the Election Campaign Monitoring for the Graz municipal elections 2017:
All in all the political parties referred to 14 topics with direct human rights relevance that have been analysed: Democracy, participation, transparency; youth and childcare; work, economy, business, the city as an employer; traffic, mobility, infrastructure, IT and data protection; arts and culture; old age, care and generations; health; migration, integration; housing; security, peace; poverty prevention, fight against poverty, gambling; women, gender equity; non-discrimination; education.
In these fields lots of common ground could be determined showing wide consensus on the importance of local policies - despite all existing diversity and different emphasis of the parties. Even though the human rights city of Graz wasn't raised as a political agenda, the election campaign as a whole, with its topics and positions, was worthy of a human rights city. It must further be empasised that all political parties refer to human rights in their programmes.
The Human Rights Council awards a green traffic light to the election campaign discourse as a whole for its citizen-oriented policies in the spirit of human rights, the balanced and broad debate, the municipal relevance and the lack of disproportionate aggression.
The Freedom Party's campaigning deserves special attention. Although it is thematically structured and factual within these topics, an overall view clearly shows that it is in fact an "anti-foreigner campaign". Almost all factual issues lead to a clear demarcation between "ourselves and the others". The discourse is to be classified as racist because it suggests superiority of the "self" and postulates distinction based on origin. Therefore 152 green traffic lights on single issues are confronted with seven yellow ones and a red one (preliminary result). It has to be emphasized that - with the exception of the topic of "education" - the thin red line has not been crossed. In particular, there was no generation of hate. In this aspect a clear difference to the election campaign of 2007/08 can be determined.
Consequently, the election campaign did not lead to significant numbers of reported attacks, which is the most important criterion as seen by the Human Rights Council. The voters obviously are able to distinguish between exclusionary rhetorics and incitement of hate. Moreover, all other political parties have clearly taken a stand against the Freedom Party's positions of distinction and exclusion.
(26 January 2017)
Wahlkampfmonitoring Graz 2017: Vorläufiges Gutachten... (pdf, German only)
Website Wahlkampfbarometer... (pdf, German only)
Trust, effectivity and fair justice systems
FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty presented two new reports from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) that examine EU laws and how their use in varying national contexts affects individuals during criminal proceedings and sanctioning, before and after trial. The reports also show how rights protection can enhance trust between Member States in cross-border cases and how these laws can significantly improve the enjoyment of fundamental rights in the EU.
“Protecting the rights of people involved in criminal proceedings is a hallmark of fair justice systems,” states O’Flaherty. “When it comes to justice across borders, we need to boost trust between national judiciaries. This is the only way we can ensure that people will be fairly treated.”
Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information examines the right to information and translation and the right to interpretation of suspects and the accused. These rights ensure effective participation in criminal proceedings and overall fairness during trial, regardless of where in the EU the proceedings take place.
Criminal detention and alternatives: fundamental rights aspects in EU cross-border transfers examines issues of criminal detention and alternatives in cross-border transfers. Such mutual recognition between Member States depends on trust, which in turn hinges very much on fundamental rights. For instance, detention should be used as a last resort and alternatives used more, in line with human rights standards. As well as helping the reintegration process, alternatives to detention are often cheaper.
Both reports note that criminal proceedings should also consider the specific needs of people with disabilities or children, in accordance with European and international human rights standards. This includes accessible information about individual rights, and ensuring people are transferred to places with adequate detention conditions.
Also available on-line are the country studies from EU Member States that constitute the background material for the FRA report. You can find the studies from all EU member states at the FRA website, the Austrian reports also here:
Veronika Apostolovski, Markus Möstl (2015): The right to interpretation and translation and the right to information in criminal proceedings in the EU (= FRANET Country Study Austria, 2015/1)
Veronika Apostolovski, Markus Möstl (2015): Rehabilitation and mutual recognition – practice concerning EU law on transfer of persons sentenced or awaiting trial (= FRANET Country Study Austria, 2015/2)
(17 November 2016)
Taking HUMAN RIGHTS literally
A project by mur.at initiative netzkultur in cooperation with human rights experts of ETC Graz and UNI-ETC
Public interest interventions basing on the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) on infoscreens in public transport and on the video wall on Jakominiplatz, Graz.
In our present times characterized by global migration in still unpredictable dimensions, where the far right fuels fears using thoroughly targeted buzzwords, mur.at is taking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights literally:
Serving as a guideline for humane and dignified political and daily life togetherness in the human rights city of Graz the declaration becomes the starting point for artistic statements in public space.
Socio-politically committed artists of different disciplines, visual and performing arts and literature, were invited to ask questions and discuss possible solutions with human rights experts of ETC Graz and UNI-ETC, and to subsequently change perspectives and continue this exchange on concepts in dialogue with the general public.
This in-depth approach resulted in "public interest interventions" created by the contemporary artists who have a personal connection with Graz and/or Styria. The interventions face the challenge to compete - amidst a flood of pictures and infotainment texts - with eceryday perception and stereotyped thinking patterns.
(7 October 2016)
Read more... (in German)
Information and encounter
The asylum- and migration-themed event Langer Tag der Flucht 2016coordinated by UNHCR, enabled more than 70 students to learn about refugees in Austria and the domestic asylum system. In connection with information on the EU- and human rights dimension of the issues at stake, a lively discussion ensued among the groups of students. Additionally, the students of the Technical High School for Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (BULME) Graz, the Vocational School Mureck and the high school BG/BRG Seebacher had the chance to meet two Iraqis who made their way to Graz.
The students were tasked with working on human rights issues relating to the fields of migration, flight and asylum during the workshops, partly together with aslyum seekers. Beforehand, workshop facilitators Lisa Heschl (Uni-ETC) and Barbara Schmiedl (ETC Graz) held lectures at the students' respective schools. In the course of these lessons, the instructors provided information on displacement and refugee movements worldwide. They also explained the EU asylum system (keyword: Dublin) and laid special emphasis on Austria's domestic asylum procedure, which entailed intense discussions.
Working in groups at the ETC, students prepared small presentations on the limits of the freedom of expression and on the right to education. Some of them also had the chance to talk to asylum seekers who shared their experience as refugees in the asylum procedure. Lobna Al Jeheschi and Ahmed Al Nuaimi, both teachers from Iraq, described their lives in Mossul before and during the rule of ISIS. They told their stories of being refugees with three little children, about their arrival in Austria in October 2015 and finally about their lives in Graz.
(5 October, 2016)
Human rights in times of migration: FRA Monthly Updates
The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) just published the new monthly update on migration-related fundamental rights concerns. The FRA's National Focal Points in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Sweden have been collecting data on a variety of issues such as new arrivals, criminal proceedings, initial registration and processing, reception conditions, child protection, legal, social and policy responses and hate speech since October 2015, published in weekly intervals in 2015 and in monthly updates since January 2016.
Since March 2016 each monthly update also covered a thematic focus:
While there are great differences with respect to the reception and integration of asylum seekers and refugees a few challenges seem to be common in most cities and regions: Challenges comprise the most obvious needs of providing adequate accommodation and education, the latter referring to schooling as well as to language training. Local budgets and local businesses are affected by the inflow of migrants and refugees, though in very different ways. And the local populations' reactions range from very positive to very negative, often linked to local administrations' information management.
(23 September 2016)
Now available in 23 EU languages: "Severe forms of labour exploitation"
An hourly wage of one Euro? Working days of 12 hours, six to seven days a week? No entitlement to holidays? Fired when sick?
That's real life working conditions - not only somewhere around the globe but right here, among ourselves, in Austria, in the European Union. Severe labour exploitation of workers moving within or into the EU is widely spread but mostly remains unknown. Most consumers are not aware that the products they purchase in a supermarket or shop, or the services they receive in a hotel or restaurant, may be produced by exploited workers. Exploitation occurs in many economic sectors and affects diverse groups of workers, such as citizens from Romania gathering potatoes in Hungary; women from sub-Saharan countries exploited as au-pairs in France; Portuguese men recruited for road construction
Last year, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published the survey Severe labour exploitation: workers moving within or into the European Union. States’ obligations and victims’ rights including Country reports of 21 states, among them Austria. A summary of the study is now available in 23 EU languages: Severe labour exploitation: workers moving within or into the European Union.
(27 July 2016)
"We are Dignity!“ - Torch of Dignity lit in Graz, first Human Rights City in Europe
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sees the acknowledgement of the inherent dignity of every human being as a precondition for freedom, justice and peace all over the world. The European Training and Research Centre für Human Rights and Democracy of the University of Graz and the ETC Graz, supported by many local and national organizations, invited the citizens of Graz to take part in a torch relay to commemorate this principle. The Torch of Dignity March, lead by torch-bearer Gerhard Schwab, an Austrian Special Olympics athlete, started at the Place of Human Rights and headed for the city's prominent clocktower.
Member of the City Council Andreas Molnár (on behalf of the Mayor, Siegfried Nagl) opened the event with a short speech, Elke Lujansky-Lammer, the President of the Human Rights Council of the City of Graz, talked about human dignity. The march also stopped at the Refugee Camp of Hope in front of the Federal Office for Migration and Asylum where Amer recited a moving text of the Iraqui journalist Rafed Almanhalawi in Arabic and German. The event was filmed by Tom Beck (Kenne deine Rechte/Know your Rights) and Denise Riedler (Austrian League for Human Rights) for the Graz-based youth platform Kenne deine Rechte and the Peoples' Movement for Human Rights Education/PDHRE that initiated the "torch of Dignity" campaign.
The torch relay was part of a worldwide action launched by UN Human Rights Laureate 2003 Shulamith Koenig. After starting in Kotauratla (Indiea) in mid-June similar events will take place in human rights cities all over the world to share a strong and positive message to respect human dignity. When the Paralympic Games open in September a movie with the best scenes from all events worldwide will be screened in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
(15 July 2016)
Minifolder: Allgemeine Erklärung der Menschenrechte... (pdf)
Minifolder: Universal Declaration of Human Rights... (pdf)
Minifolder: Universal Declaration of Human Rights ARABIC... (pdf)
Coming soon: The movie on the Graz event...
Human Rights Forum awarded Congress Award 2016
Simone Philipp, main organizer of the International Implementation Forum "Focusing Human Rights" which brought together representatives of European local and regional authorities in May 2015 to discuss human rights implementation at the local level, was awarded the Congress Award Graz 2016, in the category of "exceptional single events", during the congress gala on June 23rd, 2016.
The award jury, among them the rectors of all local universities, recognises the efforts of organisers from academia, economy and civil society whose events - congresses and conferences - positively contribute to the image of Graz as a local, national and international congress centre.
(27 June 2016)
"Stop singing Kum ba yah and lift your butts!"
Students of local schools GIBS / Graz International Bilingual School, School for Social Management and grammar school BG/BRG Klusemannstraße had the chance to meet the Nobel Prize Laureates Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Leymah Gbowee and Jody Williams in the course of the conference Women for Peace on June 3, 2016.
Before the conference the students participated in preparatory intensive workshops held by Simone Philipp and Barbara Schmiedl (ETC Graz) and, with the support of their teachers, prepared posters on the conference topics of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination of women. Other posters dealt with human rights in general and the implementation of human rights in Graz as a Human Rights City and also showed portraits of the three Nobel Prize Laureates and of author Jennifer Teege who was also a speaker at the conference. Further the students wrote short statements describing their thoughts and ideas to be published on-line along with their works of art.
During the conference selected posters were shown in the exhibition Women, Peace and Human Rights at the conference venue and the students showed Leymah Gbowee round. Afterwards they used the chance to meet all three activists and ask questions at a Speakers' Corner. The three of them seemed to enjoy the short but very personal exchange with the youth and addressed them in a very motivational manner, best summed up with Jody Williams' words: "Stop singing Kum ba yah, stop writing bad peace poetry, lift your butts and start action!"
Human rights journalists of Kenne deine Rechte, the youth platform of the Human Rights Council of the City of Graz volunteered for the media coverage of the conference. A first contribution written after the news conference and a picture gallery showing the complete exhibition are already on-line, further reports and interviews will follow.
(6 June, 2016)
Exhibition Women, Peace and Human Rights...
Daniela Schmid, I am just a woman...
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016: Fundamental rights in times of migration
Over one million people sought refuge in the EU in 2015, a fivefold increase from the year before. In its Fundamental Rights Report 2016, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the scale and nature of the challenge and proposes measures to ensure fundamental rights are respected across.
“Last year, the EU’s fundamental rights resolve was sorely tested, with assaults on many of the freedoms, rights and values on which Europe is founded,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.
This annual Fundamental Rights Report highlights challenges and achievements across a broad spectrum of fundamental rights issues across the EU.
Being the National Contact Point in Fundamental Rights Report that has been presented to the public in Vienna today but also to the Reports on asylum, migration and borders that have been published regularly (currently: monthly) since October 2015. ETC contributions can also be found in the reports Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives and Professionally speaking: challenges to achieving equality for LGBT people published in spring 2016.the ETC contributed information on the situation in Austria not only to the
(30 May 2016)
Rerunning the on-line course THE EU AND HUMAN RIGHTS
After a successful first run with over 8,000 participants from more than 170 countries, the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on The EU and Human Rights, which was created in the context of our FRAME research project, will rerun starting 21 June.
Based on the FRAME project (Fostering Human Rights Among European Policies), a large-scale, collaborative research project funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the KU University Leuven offers a new on-line course on "The EU and Human Rights". The six-weeks MOOC (Massive Open On-line Course) is intended for anyone interested in human rights and the EU, human rights law, European law, European Studies, international relations, global governance, etc. Students with elementary knowledge of the EU and the concept of human rights will find it easier to follow the lectures.
All of the course activities aim to improve the participants' understanding of how the EU, alone or in combination with other local or global, state or non-state actors, can better promote and uphold human rights worldwide.
Course start: 21 June 2016
Registration: Open now!
(25 May, 2016)
Kick-off meeting for ADPOLIS-Project - Antidiscrimination policies successfully implemented
The research project ADPOLIS - Antidiscrimination policies successfully implemented (2016-2018) started with a kick-off meeting in Potsdam on 4-5 February 2016 with our research partners from all over Europe and associate partners European Coalition of Citis against Racism (ECCAR) and UNESCO.
The project aims at encouraging implementation of successful policies against racial discrimination in European cities by facilitating exchange of experience.
The project is co-funded by the European Union (DG Justice, Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, JUST/2014/RDIS/AG/DISC/8084)
(12 February 2016)
Successful Forum on Human Rights Implementation “Focusing on Human Rights” held in Graz on May 28/29, 2015
More than 100 participants, Congress members, politicians, civil servants, academics, collaborators of civil society organisations, from 25 European countries attended the Forum Focusing on Human Rights of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Federal State of Styria, the City of Graz and the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. The Forum was opened by the Congress’ President Jean-Claude Frécon, the Mayor of Graz, Siegfried Nagl and by the Regional Minister for Finance, Women and Integration, Bettina Vollath. All speakers underlined the role of regional and local authorities in the protection and promotion of human rights and stressed that a human rights policy at the level where authorities are closest to citizens, which ensures social cohesion is most appropriate to prevent radicalization in any form.
Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in his speech focused on concrete examples of local and regional authorities. He pointed out the effectiveness of contextualized action programmes and specific training for decision-makers. Mayor Ivo Komšić from Sarajevo spanned the bow from local identity politics to multi-level-governance challenges in the delivery of human rights at the local level.
The second day was held in St. Martin as a closed interactive workshop series. Three facilitator tandems, each combining a politician and a human rights expert, moderated workshops for the participants on Identifying human rights issues in local policy-making (Leen Verbeek, King’s Commissioner of Flevoland; Barbara Oomen, Dean of University College Roosevelt), on Exchanging good practices (Lars O. Molin, Councilor of the City of Örebro and Thematic Rapporteur on Human Rights at local and regional level at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities; Maria Nilsson, Senior Advisor and Human Rights Implementation Expert at Emerga Research and Consulting), and on Designing human rights policies (Bettina Vollath, Regional Minister for Finance, Women and Integration in Styria; Klaus Starl, Secretary General of the ETC). The results of the workshops were presented as Points for the future Agenda, right after President Frécon presented the Graz Declaration on the Implementation of Human Rights at the Local and Regional Level (DT/EN/FR), reaffirming the respective resolutions of the Congress. Helmut Tichy, Director of the International Law department of the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, closed the Forum with concluding remarks from the national level’s viewpoint.
The two-day Forum met all expectations as confirmed by the organisers, representatives and participants. It gave an excellent opportunity for exchange and mutual motivation and promoted the application of implementation tools and methods for human rights based approaches for programming at the local and regional level.
Article on the website of the Austrian Ombudsman Board...
(25 June, 2015)