Economic crisis and political extremism have placed increasing pressure on human rights across Europe. Fighting all forms of discrimination is a fundamental principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and governments – working together with citizens – carry a particular responsibility to ensure that the rights of all are respected. In this area, several challenges need to be addressed:
Increasing capacity at national level
It is not enough for governments to adopt relevant legislation; they also need to make sure that the measures taken to protect human rights are both effective and inclusive.
Fostering common values
Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are the common values at the core of the EU. They are stated both in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In an EU wide survey, four out of ten respondents reported having felt discriminated against because of their ethnic or immigrant background, skin colour or religion. These instances are seldom reported.
Inclusion of minorities and vulnerable groups
Countries with low levels of inclusion are more vulnerable to populism and increased tensions between communities. Making sure that minorities and vulnerable groups are integrated into society and have access to education, job opportunities and social services is essential for building societies based on mutual respect and inclusion.
We aim to safeguard human rights and combat discrimination and extremism at national level.
Focus is placed on strengthening the ability of national governments to implement the conditions of international treaties. Supported activities include:
- National implementation of relevant judgements and case law by the European Court of Human Rights
- Training judges, lawyers and prosecutors on the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights
- Capacity building of ombudsperson institutions, national human rights institutions and equality bodies.
- Combat discrimination through campaigns and human rights education
Fostering human rights and preventing discrimination is a priority for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. This means these aims are not only a concern in the programmes specifically devoted to human rights. In fact, all EEA and Norway Grants programmes must be based on the common values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and the respect for human rights – including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.