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Fundamental Rights Forum 2021: what to expect and look forward to?

Voglhuber © FRA, 2018

In less than three months, Europe’s leading human rights event – the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 – will take place.

Why is the Forum so important? And what are the highlights of the event?

Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, says: “We have lived through one of the most extraordinary periods of modern times for the protection of human rights.

“It is high time to put human rights back at the centre of the agenda, put the fight for equality back at the heart of our societies”.

He argues that the Forum is a critical opportunity to achieve these goals. It will bring together all the necessary people to figure out how to fix what is broken.

“The human rights community needs an opportunity to gather whereby people can give each other energy, give each other ideas, and above all else, give each other hope,” explains Director O’Flaherty.

People from very diverse backgrounds will discuss today’s most pressing human rights challenges at this year’s Fundamental Rights Forum.

What will the highlights be?

“For me, one of the major highlights is the respectful conversation that will take place with the tech industry”, says O’Flaherty.

Human rights in the digital age and the regulation of artificial intelligence are among the key topics at the moment. They need to be discussed in a non-adversarial manner with all actors involved. This will help chart a way forward that upholds human rights, human dignity and values.

He adds: “I am very excited that leading tech companies, such as Mozilla, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, will attend the Forum together with parliamentarians and policymakers as well as civil society activists – all of them are struggling in finding answers to these important questions right now.”

The presence of representatives of faith communities will be another highlight of the Forum.

“While recognising the genuine differences that exist between communities, it is imperative that everyone who cares about decent societies can rediscover the common human rights agenda.

“We will bring the faith communities together with the policymakers to discuss the role they can play in an EU setting”, he explains.

Last but not least, the arts will play an important role at the Forum as well.

“We cannot build a human rights respectful society without acknowledging the role of arts. The Forum will celebrate this through the active participation of artists, musicians and others”, says O’Flaherty.

Will the Forum make a difference?

Director O’Flaherty is convinced it will. “We know from experience that the very fact of being at the Forum will give ideas and energy to the participants. In that way, it will already make a difference. But that is not enough.

“The Forum has to contribute to the great debates in Europe, such as the Conference on the Future of Europe discussions.

“It also has to have its own explicit roadmap for actions to be taken once the final session closes.

He concludes: “It will be the duty of the Fundamental Rights Agency to closely monitor the rollout of the roadmap so that looking back in two years from now, we will see a stronger more rights-respectful Europe that would not have been the case if the Forum had not happened.”

Join the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 on 11 and 12 October and make a difference for the protection of human rights across Europe.

In the meantime, sign up for updates to stay well informed.

The registrations will open soon.

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