Fundamental Rights Forum 2016

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights convened from the 20th to 24th June in Messezentrum Vienna a Fundamental Rights Forum. Around 700 leading human rights experts from around the world gathered under the Forum’s motto: “Rights, Respect, Reality: the Europe of Values in Today's World”. It can be said that the Forum had three main objectives: to Connect, Reflect and Act. The Forum was imagined as an inclusive and open platform where practitioners, grassroots workers and decision makers can Connect. The second stage of the process, Reflect, was to look at existing challenges as well as challenges to come and to detect good practices or maybe to come up with some better ones. In this process, Forum served as a space where dynamic and respectful dialogue is possible and where sharing knowledge through different views can produce new ideas for the future. Act, the last step, takes the results from previous two steps to apply them and to work together on strengthening fundamental rights for all.

Forum focused on three EU’s most pressing fundamental themes: refugee protection, inclusion and the digital age.  Participants could start from one key area and work further to see how are they connected, starting from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Each day, the themes were looked on from a different perspective. The first day of the Forum we looked for Innovation for Fundamental Rights. The second day was dedicated to a rights based governance. The third day was about empowering rights holders and the last day we discussed how the fundamental rights and sustainable growth are interlinked and what does it mean for Europe.

Each day of the Forum started with a panel debate and a connect.reflect.act Talk. The diversity and quality of speakers ensured that all participants are inspired and ready for the second, most important, part of the day: the Working Groups. Throughout the Forum an impressive number of 28 Working Groups has taken place. A Working Group was where participants from different areas came together to discuss a selected topic. The result of each Working Group was a set of conclusions, recommendations and action points for international organizations, EU institutions, national governments and business leaders as steps to be taken to improve respect for fundamental rights. The result of each Working Group was summarized and used in the Chair’s Statement which you can read fully on the FRF website.

Our Master Program participated in the Marketplace of Idea. This was an area where different organizations could show their work and interact with participants. It was a great platform for knowledge sharing, discussions and a chance for all the participants to find out about the unique Vienna Master of Arts Program located Vienna.

Our 4th generation students participated in the FRA Forum as volunteers. Each student was a part of a different organization unit, including: general support, logistic team, media coverage, assisting in plenary session and as facilitators in Working Groups. In order to be ready for the FRA Forum, our students received a 2 day training session which was provided by the FRA.