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Welcome from FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty

Welcome to the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021!

This year, the Forum is all about looking forward, towards a vision of hope – something we all need after a year of a global Coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has affected our fundamental rights in ways we did not even imagine possible. It has taken lives of millions of people, ravaged whole communities and hit our economies hard.

At the same time, the rapid uptake of new technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence to facial recognition, created new fundamental rights challenges.

The old challenges have not gone anywhere either. Hate and intolerance are alarmingly high in too many places, unaccompanied children and refugee families are still arriving in reception centres, civil society organisations struggle with resources and the very human rights architecture is under threat in many places.

It is time to think about where do we go from here? How can we make sure that we protect not just the rights of the most vulnerable but the rights of everybody?

This is where the Fundamental Rights Forum comes in. It is a unique event that brings together people from very diverse backgrounds – the thought leaders, decision makers, civil society, artists, businesses, young people, faith and non-confessional communities and many more.

The goal is simple. By bringing these unusual suspects together, they can strike sparks off each other and come up with new ideas to tackle these fundamental rights challenges.

This year, we are going to look for solution to a variety of challenges – from disinformation to environmental issues, from rule of law to migration.

But two main themes are going to run through all our discussions – our response to the effects of the pandemic and the youth of Europe.

Because if we are to discuss the future, we have to get young people involved. We have been listening to them during our Fundamental Rights Dialogues throughout the year. We heard their concerns and suggestions on how things should change. Their voices and ideas are going to take centre stage at the Forum.

Are you interested? Join the Forum and let us make a real difference for the promotion and the respect of fundamental rights of all together.

I hope to see you in October!

- Michael O’Flaherty, FRA Director

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