The second day of the EPP final conferences ends with the main message “minority rights are integral part of human rights”.
The second day of the conference kicked off with a keynote speech by Dr. Jasper Krommendijk on international and European human rights mechanisms. In his lecture Dr. Krommendijk evaluated how these mechanisms could be relevant at the national level, and presented his research on impact of specific recommendations from the Netherlands, Finland and New Zealand. The focus of the lecture was on the way in which domestic institutions and NGOs can use international and European human rights monitoring mechanisms to strengthen their work and achieve policy change at the national level.
Which human rights mechanisms have appeared to be more effective? What are the factors that make these recommendations effective? Comparing the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Dr. Krommendijk concluded that the ECRI had a bigger impact in the explored cases. Some of the elements he mentioned were follow up meetings, more specific and timely recommendations: “ECRI members had regular country visits to Netherlands after the recommendations were published, in order to ensure the recommendations are effective and to increase visibility”.
Dr. Krommendijk also discussed ECtHR and UN treaty bodies. Out of the six presented mechanisms and their recommendations, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was identified as the most successful, with the biggest number of effective recommendations. Second in the list was the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), followed by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights however, was the last with the lowest number of effective recommendations with specific impact. He also highlighted the importance of mobilisation on national levels for higher impact of international mechanisms: “Whether they are relevant or not – that depends on what you, domestic stakeholders, make out of it”.
Some of the discussion points following the lecture included statistics on effective recommendations for Ukraine, the relation of the Sami case in Finland to indigenous peoples’ rights within Ukraine, and the role of the media in the effectiveness of a specific measure.
The programme of the second day included three discussion sessions featuring 14 presentations from local actors in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine on various topics.
In concluding the day’s presentations, Prof. Tove Malloy and Dr. Raul Carstocea summarized the results of the conference and the ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme and made closing remarks. Dr. Carstocea referred to the keynote of Mr. Boriss Cilevics and highlighted the main message of the conference, namely that minority rights are integral part of human rights, adding that “the principle of non-discrimination is a cornerstone of both human and minority rights.” He also summarized the main points raised during the past two days and concluded, “In order to apply all the available international human rights instruments in our specific context, the first step is to know all the avenues.”
In her closing remarks Prof. Tove Malloy thanked the participants of the conference and all the actors engaged in the ECMI Eastern Partnership Programme. “This programme has yielded remarkable results thanks to everyone involved. The final reports will form the basis of what we have to do next. They include very concrete recommendations that we are able to work with.”
She emphasized the importance of these findings as an “invaluable contribution to academia, governmental agencies, NGOs and wider public in these three countries.” In the end, she listed some of the most important recommendations, including the recommendations on decision making processes, distribution of resources, strengthening of trust between minorities and majorities as well as government and civil society, development of relevant tools, and most importantly: knowledge and experience transfer. “We need to disseminate good practices so that we could learn from each other. Thanks to our engaged stakeholders, team and donors we have achieved this in our programme.”
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