The “Protection of Human Rights: Institutions and Instruments“(FRAME Work Package 4) feedback event took place on 30 October 2014. Hosted by the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, organized by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM), the event gathered academics, policy makers and civil society representatives. Issues connected with the institutional maturity of the EU human rights policy (Panel 1), its coherence (Panel 2), and improvement of its external aspect (Panel 3) were discussed. Whilst acknowledgement was given to the EU’s progress in the area marked by responding to the postulates expressed in 1999 ‘Leading by Example’ report, there are still many areas of concern pointed to by the speakers and participants.

Workshop on Protection of Human Rights: Institutions and Instruments

Of chief importance is the coherence between various facets of the human rights policy as well as exploration of patterns and potential of institutional learning; the aspect which was emphasized in the light of policy’s dependency on individuals’ commitment to human rights cause. The potential of the Charter of Fundamental Rights for ensuring coherence within EU human rights protection mechanism was examined. Unfortunately, it seems that in the ongoing crisis situation, it would be difficult to expect that the Charter unveils its full potential when confronted with the Member States’ economic needs. It is clearly visible in the area of social rights. Finally, in the external sphere, remarks were made as to the need of re-evaluation of conditionality as used in external policies of the EU as well as the institutional setting within which the particular external human rights issues are dealt with and the role foreseen for the European Parliament in this sphere.

Overall, it seems that with a steady improvement of the EU human rights policy, new avenues for improvement and investigation have emerged. In other words, the glass is filling up, possibly becoming more than half full, yet the ‘emptiness’ needs to be closely re-examined. 

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