ETC Home
(Photo: ETC/Schmiedl)

Taking HUMAN RIGHTS literally

A project by 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, 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)

Project website...




(Photos: ETC Graz/Schmiedl, Heschl)

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)








(Graphics: FRA)

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)


Read more:

Monthly data collection: July 2016...

Thematic focus: Impact of the asylum crisis on local communities...





(Foto: FreeImages/Mohammed Shaker)

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
in the Netherlands; North Korean men working as unskilled labourers at a shipyard in Poland; and fruit pickers from Bangladesh and Pakistan in
southern Greece.

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)




(Photos: Schmiedl/ETC Graz)

"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...




(Photo: ©MCG/Wiesner)

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)








(Photos: Schmid/Kenne deine Rechte)

"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.

  • With 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, the migration situation is set to remain at the top of the EU agenda. The majority of refugees coming to Europe, many of them children, are risking their lives.
  • An upsurge in racist and xenophobic incidents was noted in many Member States, fuelled by fears over the migration situation and a spate of terrorist attacks. FRA’s report finds that Muslims and Jewish communities were particularly affected.
  • The terrorist attacks once again highlighted the difficulty of finding the right balance between protecting personal data and privacy and maintaining internal security. A number of EU Member States are in the process of reforming their legal intelligence framework, which could potentially increase the intrusive powers of the services.

Being the National Contact Point in FRANET the ETC contributed information on the situation in Austria not only to the 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.

(30 May 2016)




(KU Leuven MOOC/Videostill)

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.

The course programme comprises the basics of human rights, placing the EU at the centre of investigation. The course will examine a number of key questions:

  • What factors are key to making the EU a positive or a negative force for human rights? An example is the economic crisis: what impact has it had on people’s human rights in the EU and the world?
  • Which actors, friends or foes, must the EU engage with to successfully promote human rights? Examples include NGOs, businesses, or other international organisations like the Council of Europe or the United Nations.
  • In key policy sectors in which the EU is active, what is on balance the impact of the EU? Examples include trade, development, migration social policy or international crisis management.

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
Price: Free!

Registration: Open now!



(25 May, 2016)




(Foto: Adpolis)

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.  

Read more…

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)

(Photos: Möstl/ETC Graz)

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.

Workshop summaries...

Some impressions...



Congress of Local and Regional Authorities...

Province of Styria...

City of Graz...


Article on the website of the Austrian Ombudsman Board...

(25 June, 2015)






  • Study Programme (M.A. und LL.M.) Human Rights, Donau-Universität Krems, starting 21 October 2016




(German only)