Why do we need to debate fundamental rights?

70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human RightsGlobal threats are eroding human rights progress and commitments. This is happening even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has existed for 70 years, and the EU has its very own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The EU and its Member States are struggling to find effective answers to the problems people face. These include:

  • security concerns
  • economic worries
  • changing global migratory patterns
  • fake news
  • lack of public debate
  • alienation or 'othering'

Populist movements are exploiting all of this for their own gain. As a result, society is being fragmented. Some groups increasingly feel separated, excluded and marginalised.

People in the EU risk losing their sense of belonging - both to the societies they live in and the values which underpin the EU. That said, the 2017 EU Citizenship Report shows that Europeans expect more to be done to promote common values.

The Forum will be a catalyst to reignite a passion for fairness, justice and equality.

The Forum is a unique space for dialogue on the pressing human rights challenges in the EU. It is an opportunity to engage in new conversations and shape critical human rights agendas.

Among those meeting in Vienna will be leading global and European voices from:

  • politics
  • human rights
  • international and regional intergovernmental organisations
  • civil society
  • faith communities
  • the arts
  • business
  • communicators
  • and many others

What is happening at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2018?

The Forum is organised by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

Over three days, it will host open sessions, inspiring talks and panel debates. A global network of strategic partners shaped the programme.

The Forum aims to reboot human rights conversations. It is a space where inventive people from many walks of life can connect, reflect and act.

Young people from across Europe will contribute actively to the debates, including in sessions run by themselves.

Participants can engage with a Living Library. People will share their front-line stories about marginalisation, discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices.

The Forum’s Virtual Zone will showcase innovative and experiential tools for human rights advocates.

The Forum will also promote the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Those goals can drive inclusive and thriving societies. They are a reminder of how the EU fits into the global community.

How will the Forum protect and promote human rights?

The Forum will lead to concrete and sustainable human rights initiatives. Its contributors will be agents for change. These include:

  • policy makers
  • civil society
  • social media creatives
  • faith communities
  • the arts
  • academia
  • business

There is also good cooperation with the Council of the EU where Member States are represented. The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU is one of the  partners of the Forum 2018.

An informal meeting of the Council’s Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP) will take place at the Forum. Representatives of future Presidencies including George Ciamba, State Secretary (Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and from Finland will also attend and contribute to the Forum.

The Forum will also welcome an official delegation from the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament and other Members of the European Parliament. These include:

  • Mairead McGuinness, First Vice President
  • Lívia Járóka, Vice President
  • Claude Moraes, Chair, LIBE Committee 
  • Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Co-President, European Parliament Anti-racism and Diversity Intergroup
  • Michał Boni, Rapporteur, ‘Comprehensive European industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics’, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) opinion to the European Parliament own-initiative report;
  • Soraya Post, Co-President, European Parliament Anti-racism and Diversity Intergroup
  • József Nagy, Rapporteur, ‘Minimum standards for minorities in the EU,’ European Parliament own-initiative report
  • Josep-Maria Terricabras, European Parliament Rapporteur, 'Situation of Fundamental Rights in the EU in 2017' report
  • Judith Sargentini, Member of European Parliament
  • Julie Ward, Member of European Parliament
  • Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of European Parliament
  • Karol Karski, Member of European Parliament         

The aim is to inspire MEPs ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election campaigns.

The European Commission is strongly engaged in many of the Forum’s sessions. We are proud to have Commissioner Věra Jourová as keynote speaker for the opening proceedings of the Forum and for the ‘Reality Bite’ discussion as part of the Citizens Dialogues series. 

The Forum will also welcome a broad range of United Nations experts and high-level officials, including Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

The Council of Europe is represented by a high-level delegation including Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, and Snežana Samardžić-Marković, Director General of Democracy, as well as many other experts. 

Ján Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU will also attend the Forum.

The results of the workshops and panel debates will also provide a solid basis for action. These will feed into local, national, European and international human rights communities.

Can I follow events at the Forum?

Registration for the Forum has closed. You can follow the event live by joining the debate online.

Visit this website for the latest news, videos and more. Or take part in the conversation on social media using #RightsForum18.

What’s on? The Forum programme

The Forum is an interactive event. Both the venue and programme reflect this approach. The Forum's varied programme includes:

  • a high-level opening and closing ceremony
  • Connect.Reflect.Act talks
  • Reality Bites panel discussions
  • Artistic elements
  • the Living Library and a Virtual Zone
  • five FRA-led working groups
  • more than 50 external 'open sessions'

You cannot sign up in advance to FRA Working Groups or open sessions. They run on a first-come, first-served basis.

Many sessions run in parallel. You choose what interests you most and build your own programme. But you need to be flexible in case your preferred session is full!

Can I come to the Forum?

Registration for the Forum has closed.


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