With a high-rank conference at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts in Brussels, the four-year EU research project FRAME celebrated its formal completion on 26 April 2017. Taking a broad approach, FRAME has analyzed the promotion of human rights in all areas of EU external and internal policies and has developed detailed policy recommendations. The project was implemented by a consortium of 19 European and non-European partner institutions, led by the Centre for Global Governance Studies at the University of Leuven.
During the past four years, the BIM was involved in the elaboration of 13 FRAME studies and in the implementation of a series of workshops and lectures. In addition, the BIM participated in the organization of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) "The EU and Human Rights", created in the framework of the project and run for the first time in 2015.
In his welcome address, Jan Wouters, Director of the Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies and FRAME Coordinator, referred to the intensive research conducted since May 2013, which was reflected in more than 50 research reports. He also presented the action-oriented brochure "How to better foster human rights among EU policies - FRAME final recommendations", which condenses the research results into 40 key recommendations and addresses both the EU institutions and the Member States.
Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, underlined in his video message that human rights academic research is needed more than ever. His predecessor in this function Morten Kjaerum, Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights, poignantly emphasized in his keynote speech that it is the attack on – national and international – institutions protecting rule of law and human rights that makes the crisis of human rights so particularly acute.
Furthermore, panel discussions were held on the key challenges that the EU faces and which put human rights under pressure: the economic crisis and austerity policy (chaired by BIM Team Leader Karin Lukas); the diminishing leverage of the EU as a global human rights actor; migratory and refugee movements; as well as security policy in view of the terrorist threat.
These discussions as well as the recommendations formulated by the project were then taken up in a high-level roundtable titled "The EU’s commitment to human rights: Ways forward", which also highlighted the backsliding within the EU and the thus waning credibility in external policy. Manfred Nowak referred to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework that has been generally accepted by the international community since 2015, also precisely for the promotion of human rights. He raised the question: why should the EU not become the pioneer in implementing them?
The conference ended with statements by Hermann von Rompuy, Honorary President of the European Council, and Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights. In his speech, Hermann von Rompuy drew attention to the link between democracy, human rights and peace and argued for a double approach: firmness in speaking up against human rights violations while keeping doors open for dialogue.
In his closing keynote, Stavros Lambrinidis emphasized the need for all states to have minimal safeguards at place that prevent human rights violations from being swept under the carpet. Equivalent to the idea of sustainable development, he advocated the concept of sustainable security that tackles the root causes and perceives the realisation of human rights as the basis for security. Concludingly, Mr Lambrinidis called for support of human rights in order to fight terrorism by investing in education, enhancing gender equality, empowering civil society and protecting freedom of expression.
An overview of the conference agenda and all speakers can be found in the programme.
Videoclips from the conference (in English):
The FRAME reports to which the BIM has contributed are available for download in the project fact sheet.
Further information on the project as well as all publications can also be found on the project website.