EIDHR Forum 2014
Protecting Those Who Protect
12-14 May 2014, Brussels Event Brewery, Rue Delaunoy 58, 1080 Brussels (Belgium)
"Courageous individuals fighting for human rights worldwide frequently find themselves the target of oppression and coercion; the EU will intensify its political and financial support for human rights defenders and step up its efforts against all forms of reprisals. A vigorous and independent civil society is essential to the functioning of democracy and the implementation for human rights; effective engagement with civil society is a cornerstone of a successful human rights policy. The EU places great value on this regular dialogue with civil society both inside and outside the EU and is profoundly concerned at attempts in some countries to restrict the independence of civil society. As a leading donor to civil society, the EU will continue supporting human rights defenders under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and make funding operations more flexible and more accessible”.
EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, Council of the European Union, Luxembourg, 25 June 2012.
Each year the European Commission organises a spring forum dedicated to the reality of Human Rights on the ground and in particular the implementation of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
Gathering, each year, 400 NGOs from all over the world, this year’s edition focused on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). It timely followed the adoption of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for 2014-2020, which gives a strengthened role to HRDs, endowed with additional funding facilities and further protection mechanisms.
The objective of this forum was threefold. First, it aimed at defining priorities and avenues for concrete EU operational support to HRDs for the upcoming 7 years and at launching several related initiatives. Second, it aimed, 10 year after the adoption of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, at reviewing field operations, operational good practices, concrete lessons learnt and practical adaptation in our support to HRDs. Third, it offered a useful opportunity for HRDs to gather, exchange concrete information, views and contacts, and to network between themselves or with the EU institutions.
Therefore, this Forum took place at a key moment when several ongoing related initiatives converged, namely:
• The launch of a comprehensive EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism, and the relevant related public procurements,
• The inclusion of a temporary relocation system for HRDs at risk as a component of this mechanism (“City Shelter”)
• The selection of new projects on Human Rights and their Defenders in the most difficult situation
• The launch of the EIDHR Annual Action Plan (AAP) 2014, and the preparation of the upcoming AAP 2015
• The potential adoption of the new EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression, currently in negotiation
• The adoption of a Tool-box for working towards a Rights-based Approach, encompassing all Human Rights, for the EU Development Cooperation.