This page shows a selection of speakers at the Forum. For a full list of speakers please see the individual sessions in the programme.
Farah Abdi is a Somali refugee and award-winning blogger. Farah arrived in Malta from Libya by boat in 2012, fleeing fear of persecution. Farah is author of the autobiography ‘Never Arrive’ and a human rights activist. Farah is also the recipient of the International Bremen Peace Award by the German NGO, Stiftung die schwelle, and the Queen of England award for young leaders. Farah says: "I have been told many times by family, friends, colleagues and strangers; that I am a black, African, refugee, Muslim, trans woman; that I am outside the norms accepted by society. That my dreams are a reflection of my upbringing in a decadent amoral society that has corrupted who I really am. As a young trans African, I have been conditioned from an early age to consider my gender identity a dangerous deviation from my true heritage as a Somali by close kin and friends. As a young trans African coming of age in Malta, there was another whiplash of cultural confusion that I had to recover from again and again: that accepting my gender identity doesn’t necessarily mean that the wider Maltese community, with its own preconceived notions of what constitutes a ‘valid’ identity, will embrace me any more welcomingly than my own prejudiced kinsfolk do.”
Alberto Alemanno is an academic, civic advocate and social entrepreneur. He is currently Jean Monnet Professor at HEC Paris and Global Clinical Professor at New York University School of Law. Due to his commitment to bridge the gap between academic research and policy action, he established eLabEurope, a start-up committed to improve civic literacy, engagement and participation by lobbying in the public interest. His online course on Coursera – Understanding Europe –has already trained more than 100,000 citizens about how to protect their rights in the EU. Every year the EU Public Interest Clinic enables dozens of students to provide pro bono advice to non-profit organisations active in policy making across Europe, such as Transparency International, Wikimedia and Access Info Europe. He also recently launched The Good Lobby, the first skill-sharing advocacy platform aimed at connecting people with expertise with civil society organisations who need them in pursuit of the public interest. He regularly publishes Op-Eds in Le Monde, the Huffington Post, IlSole24Ore and his work has been featured in The Economist, The Financial Times, Science and Nature. The World Economic Forum named Alberto Young Global Leader in 2015.
Dimitris Avramopoulos is European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. Before that he held various ministerial posts in the Greek government. The Commission welcomes the idea of a strategic dialogue within the Forum, a real exchange of ideas and good practices between different actors around three main subjects of interest at the present time: inclusion, refugee protection and the digital age. It also views FRA as one of its most important partners in its endeavour to build up a Union where people living in Europe are at the core of EU policies.
Professor Anna Badora
Anna Badora is the artistic director of the Volkstheater in Vienna. She was previously Director General of the Schauspielhaus Graz and Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. She has received numerous prestigious awards in the area of culture, including the Nestroy Theatre Prize for the best production of Daniel Kehlmann’s ‘Geister in Princeton’.
Benjamin Barber is a visiting research scholar at The Graduate Center, CUNY, founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors Project and the Interdependence Movement, and Walt Whitman Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University. He is the author of eighteen books including the classic Strong Democracy, the international bestseller (in 30 languages) Jihad vs. McWorld (which will appear in a 20th anniversary edition in 2016) and his latest work, If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities (also in eight foreign editions), which is the foundation for Barber's current project aimed at establishing a Global Parliament of Mayors. He has just completed Cool Cities: Urban Sustainability in a Warming World, which will appear in 2016/17.
His honors include a knighthood from the French Government, the Berlin Prize of the American Academy, the John Dewey Award, and Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Social Science Research Fellowships. Barber has been an outside adviser to President Bill Clinton, worked on the Howard Dean Presidential Campaign and has consulted with national and municipal political and civic leaders around the world.
A founding editor and editor-in-chief of the distinguished international quarterly Political Theory, Barber has written for the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the L.A. Times as well as The Nation, The New Republic, the Atlantic, Harper's and publications around the world including Suddeiutsche Zeitung, Nouvel Obsservateur, El Pais and La Repubblica. He has appeared on CNN, the BBC, Fox News, Al Jazeera, the Tavis Smiley Show, Bill Moyers Journal and Charlie Rose.
Barber's fiction, television and theater work include the novel Marriage Voices, the opera Home and the River (with George Quincy), five plays, lyrics for the Martin Best EMI album Knight on the Road, and several television series including (with Patrick Watson) the ten part CBC/PBS/ITV series The Struggle for Democracy and for BBC Four, Greek Fire.
Dr. Barber's urban agenda focuses on the "Devolution Revolution" that is empowering cities to address global issues through cooperative urban networks; it argues that cities have not only a responsibility but the right to secure the sustainability, life, and liberties of its citizen's. His is, in other words, a rights-based approach to urban cooperation and the founding of the Global Parliament of Mayors.
State Secretary for European and International Judicial Cooperation, Hungary
Tomáš Boček is the Council of Europe’s Special Representative on Migration and Refugees. He is in charge of gathering information on the situation of the basic rights of migrants and refugees in Europe, and developing proposals for action. In the field, he also coordinates with Council of Europe partners, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, UNICEF, the EU and FRONTEX. One of the priorities of his mission is to protect the some 300,000 child refugees who are reportedly in Europe. He has visited hotspots, and migrant and refugee camps in the Balkans. He has also been Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs and Deputy Minister for International Relations and European Affairs at the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Justice. In addition, he was the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the Council of Europe.
Michał Boni is a Member of the European Parliament. He has held various ministerial posts in the Polish government such as Minister of Administration and Digitisation of Poland and Minister of Labour and Social Policy. He was involved in the ‘Solidarity’ underground movement and member of the national authorities of ‘Solidarity’. In 1990 he became Chairman of the Mazowsze Region Management Board. Mr Boni believes digital innovation and development is not contradictory in respecting fundamental rights of people. He looks forward for the discussions at the Forum on how to protect fundamental rights in the digital era
Minister of Justice, Austria
Dr Matti Bunzl
Dr Matti Bunzl is Director of Wien Museum. He was previously a full professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Illinois where he led the interdisciplinary humanities institute’s ‘Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities’ and managed the university’s Jewish Culture and Society Programme. He was also director of the Chicago Humanities Festival which takes place every year and includes around 100 events. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including: ‘Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Hatreds Old and New in Europe’ (2007).
Prof. Joseph A Cannataci is UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy. He is also Head of the Information Policy & Governance Department at the University of Malta’s Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences. He is also a full professor, holding the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Groningen where he co-founded the STeP Research Group. Additionally, he is adjunct professor at the Security Research Institute & School of Computer and Security Science, at the Edith Cowan University, Australia. He is also the scientific coordinator of multiple EU-funded research projects focusing on privacy. His latest book The Individual and Privacy was published by Ashgate in March 2015. He hopes that the Fundamental Rights Forum will continue to build bridges and increase understanding between stakeholders.
James L. Cavallaro
James L. Cavallaro is President and Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Currently, he is also a law professor at Stanford Law School and Founding Director of both the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford and the Stanford Human Rights Center. Previously, he was a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard. He founded the Brazil-based Global Justice Center and served as Director of the Brazil offices of Human Rights Watch and the Center for Justice and International Law. He is the author of dozens of articles, books, and other publications on human rights and the inter-American human rights system.
Vincent Cochetel is Director of the Bureau for Europe of UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. He is also currently the UNHCR’s Regional Refugee Coordinator for the refugee crisis in Europe. Before this, he was UNHCR’s Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean. He has been with the UNHCR since 1986, initially working as a legal/protection officer in a number of duty stations, mainly in Europe. He then managed UNHCR field offices in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He has also participated in several emergency missions in Asia, West Africa, and Europe (North Caucasus), been Director of the Investigation Unit of the Inspector General’s Office at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, and Deputy Director of UNHCR’s Division of International Protection and Director of the Resettlement Service. Before joining UNHCR, he worked with the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights. He has written articles on numerous refugee issues and contributed to the drafting of several UNHCR training manuals related to staff safety, emergency management, protection, and durable solutions.
Anastasia Crickley is president of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the treaty body which monitors implementation of the ICERD. She was the first chairperson of the Fundamental Rights Agency and a chair of its predecessor, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism. She was a member of the Advisory Committee for the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the protection of National Minorities and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-office on discrimination. She has been involved all her life in supporting and leading civil society efforts for a more just and equal world where human rights are upheld, and particularly the rights of women. She was a founder member of the European Network against Racism, has been active in supporting Traveller and Roma rights in Ireland, and elsewhere, and is chairperson of Pavee Point National Traveller and Roma Centre Ireland. Building on previous work with Irish emigrants she is a founder of the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland and of Global Migration Policy Associates. She is also the current chair of Community Work Ireland, the national association for promoting community development, and Vice-President of the International Association for Community Development. She believes that the Forum provides a key opportunity to articulate, discuss and get support for the fundamental rights. Without such support, creating a Europe where the human rights of all are acknowledged and realised, will not be possible. Never has this commitment been more important. As those who seek to deny rights get publicity our voices must be heard and our determination to deal with the complexities of creating an equal Europe and world must find practical steps in that direction.
Helena Dalli is Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties in Malta. She was elected to the Maltese Parliament for the first time in 1996 and served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister between 1996 and 1998. As parliamentary secretary, she piloted the Domestic Violence Bill. She has advocated landmark human rights and equality bills, such as a Civil Union Bill and a Cohabitation Bill (both open to heterosexual and same-gender couples), and a Gender Identity Bill. Dr Dalli is a lecturer in Economic and Political Sociology, Public Policy, and Sociology of Law at the University of Malta, and a columnist for The Times and L-Orizzont.
Marc Dullaert is the founder and chair of the KidsRights Foundation and founder of the International Children’s Peace Prize. KidsRights is active on four continents and promotes children’s rights with children as changemakers. He was the first Ombudsman for children in the Netherlands and was president of ENOC representing ombudspersons and commissioners for children from 33 European countries. He has published over 30 surveys regarding child rights issues and took the initiative to develop the KidsRights Index, an instrument that measures how 196 countries worldwide adhere to children’s rights. He calls on the EU, European countries and third countries in the region to implement a child rights perspective in the reception of migrating children. In his view, safety and fundamental rights are currently at stake for children on the move to and through Europe. A comprehensive EU action plan should be adopted for children in migration covering all children on the move, including children who are accompanied by their relatives and/or guardians, unaccompanied or separated children, stateless children and child victims of trafficking and child labour. The action plan should include preventive measures to protect children travelling to and through Europe and measures to protect children in the destination country. Also a clear monitoring and evaluation plan is needed. Action is needed now! An entire new generation is at risk of being deprived of having access to their fundamental rights.
Yury Fedotov is Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the UN Office in Vienna (UNOV). He holds the rank of UN Under-Secretary-General. He is a member of the UN Systems Chief Executive Board, an instrument of cooperation and coordination among UN bodies. He also represents UNODC at the Global Migration Group, an inter-agency group that meets at the level of heads of agencies. He is closely involved in promoting the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, which is managed by UNODC, as well as the Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Court of St. James's in London for five years. Before that, he was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation for International Organisations.
Laura Ferrara is a lawyer, human rights activist as well as an activist of the Movimento 5 Stelle, an Italian political movement that promotes the direct participation of citizens in the management of public affairs. She is a Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on the reports on the situation of fundamental rights in Europe, on the fight against crime and corruption, and on public access to documents. In order to strengthen the instruments to prevent violations of fundamental rights, she proposed introducing a permanent EU mechanism to prevent and resolve such violations within Member States.
H. E. Mr Heinz Fischer
Dr Heinz Fischer has been the Federal President of Austria since April 2004. Prior to that, he was the Speaker of the Austrian National Assembly and was the Federal Minister for Science and Research. He is an author of numerous books and co-editor of academic journals. His honorary awards include the Grand Star of Honour of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria, and honorary doctorates from Israel and Ukraine.
Kate Gilmore is UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. She brings to the position diverse and longstanding experience in strategic leadership and human rights advocacy with the UN, government and non-government organisations. Prior to joining OHCHR, she was Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Previously she was National Director of Amnesty International Australia and then Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International. She started her career as a social worker and government policy officer in Australia. She helped establish Australia’s first Centre Against Sexual Assault at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital and her work over a number of years focused on the prevention of violence against women. In Australia, she was granted honorary appointments to provincial and national public policy and law reform processes, including membership of the country’s first National Committee on Violence Against Women.
Wolfgang Greif is Head of the Multinational Companies and International Relations Department for Europe at GPA-djp (ÖGB), Austria's Union of Private Sector Employees, Graphical Workers and Journalists. The Union represents mainly white-collar-employees in private industry. His professional responsibilities range from coordinating European policy networking to practical support and advisory services for employee representatives in multinational companies in all industrial sectors. He has almost two decades of experience in labour law and social policy issues, particularly in the field of workers representation as well as trade union rights, employment and labour market issues.
Polli Hagenaars is a practicing healthcare psychologist in Amsterdam and a trainer in diversity and non-discrimination. She is convener of the Board Human Rights & Psychology of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA). In her view Inclusion, next to Dignity and Freedom, is a core principle in human rights. Social exclusion affects the identity of people in marginalized groups: a negative self concept could be internalised, self-esteem might be damaged, with the effect of stress reactions, a restricted behaviour repertoire and even health problems. Identity acts as a ‘double edged sword’ in bringing about social inclusion. For professionals to be able to assist in empowering, terms of categories are needed, which often reinforce the everyday experiences of people and have the effect of confirming the minority status. This process of ‘othering’ doubles social exclusion. In order to improve rights fulfilment, right holders need to be given the full potential as change makers and to be able to use the resilience and capabilities they possess. At the same time, involving society in this process is needed. Empowerment only develops when people act together in changing existing power relationships and establishing a ‘new inclusive we’. Only then, people will get the freedom to choose their own social and personal identity.
James C. Hathaway is Professor of Law and Director of the Refugee and Asylum Law Programme at the University of Michigan. He is also Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Amsterdam. He regularly speaks about refugee law to academic, non-governmental, and official audiences around the world. His view is that for the first time in decades, there is a keen determination to ‘fix’ the international refugee protection system. While attention has mainly focused on the arrival of Syrians and others in Europe, the reality is that over 80% of the world’s refugees arrive in, and are protected by, poorer states. Can the world come together to agree on the contours of a new approach to implementing legal duties to refugees that is both fair to all refugees around the world, and which respects the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the states that receive them?
Stefan Hertmans is a Flemish Belgian writer, author of a vast literary and essayist oeuvre, which has won numerous prizes. His last novel, War and Turpentine, is an internationally-acclaimed bestseller. His essays are mostly concerned with the place of arts in today’s democratic society. Previously he was professor of art criticism, agogics and text analysis at University College Ghent. He has engaged intensely in the debates following the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March and has recently written a short play ‘Antigone in Molenbeek’ which will be performed at the Amsterdam Forum Re:creating Europe in June 2016. His concern for the arts as the most outstanding form to convey human rights in times of political and cultural crisis, and his strong personal engagement, triggered his invitation to the Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna.
Dr Ágnes Hevesi is Hungary’s human rights ambassador. As human rights ambassador, her primary mission is to incorporate the human rights aspect into foreign policy and foster cooperation and interaction among relevant stakeholders at national and international levels. Prior to this, she was responsible for developing Hungary’s multilateral human rights policy, representing Hungary in the UN’s human rights bodies, in particular the Human Rights Council. She held primary responsibility for Hungary’s first Universal Periodic Review in 2011 and has had a major role in launch and the annual organisation of the Budapest Human Rights Forum since its inception in 2008. She joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the first free and democratic elections in 1990 and was its first human rights diplomat. She has also had a notable legal carrier as the first international lawyer of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna and worked at the Gide Loyrette Nouel law firm as an attorney-at-law providing comprehensive legal services to major multinational companies.
Steve Howard is Chief Sustainability Officer at the IKEA Group and member of its Group Management Team. He is responsible for the company's sustainability strategy, environmental and social performance and the impact of its products. He is committed to developing innovative ways to make sustainability attractive and affordable for everyone. Prior to IKEA, he was the founder and CEO of The Climate Group and spent 15 years advising major corporations, NGOs and UN bodies on the environment. He is a leading authority on sustainability and climate change, and believes politicians and business leaders must tackle urgent environmental and economic challenges together to create new jobs and build a prosperous and clean economy.
Hauwa Ibrahim is a Nigerian human rights lawyer and scholar at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard Divinity School, she was a Radcliffe Fellow and a jointly appointed Fellow to the Human Rights Program and the Islamic Legal Studies Programme. She was born in the rural village of Hinnah, in Gombe State, northern Nigeria, where she was ingrained with values that have strengthened her life’s journey and resolve. Moving from a simpler village life that included household chores such as carrying water and firewood to State supported girls education, she trained as an attorney with the goal of contributing to justice for those who may not have access. Now, an internationally-recognised human rights lawyer, she, with her teams has won numerous precedent setting appeals before the Islamic Shariah courts of Nigeria. She taps into that experience in her book ‘Practicing Shariah Law: Seven Strategies for Achieving Justice in Shariah Courts’, which provides real-world insights into the intricacies of Shariah law. She is acutely aware of the importance of education in empowering women and in defending those facing the greatest deprivation. Poverty and illiteracy go hand-in-hand – and fundamentalism feeds on ignorance. Brought up as a Muslim herself, she works tirelessly to fight against religious fundamentalism.
For her work, she has been honoured with awards such as the European Parliament 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which honours individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and freedoms, as well as the Cavaliere Award, the highest Human Rights Award from the Italian Government. In addition, she has been awarded Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy degrees at: Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, Germany, and Godwin University College, Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters, CT, USA. She has been appointed as a visiting professor in colleges and universities in Europe and the USA: Visiting Professor Harvard University, Visiting Lecturer Saint Louis University School of Law, Stonehill College, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, Germany, College of William and Mary, and World Fellow at Yale University.
Helene Jarmer is a member of Austrian Parliament, and a spokesperson for people with disabilities. She is the Head of the Austrian Sign Language Service centre and President of the Austrian Federation of Deaf People. She has taught at the University of Vienna and has worked as a teacher for deaf children
Morten Kjaerum is Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and also Chair of the Board of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. Previously, he was FRA’s first Director and founding Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights. For over 25 years, he has been involved in human rights capacity building projects with governments and national institutions worldwide. An expert in human rights implementation, he has been a member of the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and President of the International Coordination Committee for National Human Rights Institutions. He has also written extensively on issues relating to human rights, in particular on refugee law, the prohibition of racial discrimination, and the role of national human rights institutions. In his view human rights and the rule of law are not just for the good times; they are particularly needed when the world is in crisis as it is today. Human rights are a beacon for new laws and policies when trying to navigate through the refugee crisis, and the aftermath of the terror attacks and economic crisis. Each year the economy is discussed in Davos, security in Munich. So what would be more obvious than to discuss human rights and democratic challenges in Vienna? Every year European and global leaders should meet with civil society, experts, private sector and other actors at the Fundamental Rights Forum to discuss how to further protect and develop human rights and democratic values, and commit themselves to bring this home to make it real in their daily work.
Jan Kleijssen is the Council of Europe‘s Director of Information Society and Action against Crime. Previously he was Director of the Secretary General's Private Office and as the Special Adviser to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly joined the Council of Europe in 1983 as a Lawyer with the European Commission of Human Rights. In his view, the Fundamental Rights Forum has the great merit of triggering thought-provoking discussions on today’s core challenges to human rights. The ‘digital age’ cluster covers a vast and complex field, where stakes are high in terms of guaranteeing a full and lasting enjoyment of fundamental freedoms. As we all evolve in a dynamic information society, we witness how innovation increases opportunities, while also entailing serious risks to some of our core individual rights, notably in the areas of privacy and freedom of expression. To tackle those, and to ensure that a human rights-based approach can keep up with ICT progress, a multi-stakeholder approach is absolutely key. The Council of Europe is working, in the framework of its Internet Governance Strategy 2016-2019, to establish a platform between governments and major internet companies on their respect for human rights online as well as principles of accountability and transparency to the multi-stakeholder community. He, therefore, particularly welcomes the Forum’s original setting, offering a platform, which brings together actors from various horizons, including decision-makers, practitioners, civil society and representatives from the private sector: only cross-fertilisation and confrontation of perspectives can lead to concrete outcomes and comprehensive solutions. He very much looks forward to thrilling debates.
Brian Klug is Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He works largely on social and political thought, with an emphasis on pluralism, human rights, Jewish identity, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and related topics. He sees the Forum as an opportunity to clarify the vision at the heart of fundamental rights, and to renew commitment to this vision as the basis for Europe to confront its current crises.
Judy Korn is founder and CEO of Violence Prevention Network (VPN) and Ashoka Fellow. She started her engagement combating extremism and radicalisation in her school days. Her activism began on the day her friends were openly attacked and beaten by neo-Nazis when she was just 14 years old. Even at this young age, she refused to accept that extremism, and violent radicalisation are acceptable. Through her activism she was successful in reducing violence and radicalisation in her neighbourhood and in achieving a more peaceful co-existence between various youth groups in the City of Berlin. Based on her experiences, she is genuinely convinced that people have the potential to change themselves. After years of public service work, she decided to leave and devote her time and energy to realising her ideals and goals. Founding the Violence Prevention Network was exactly such an opportunity to bring about positive change in her community. The focus of Violence Prevention Network is to have direct dialogues with extremists and radicalised people with the aim to stimulate and attend disengagement and deradicalisation. Various federal ministries, state-level justice departments, security agencies and institutional partners have worked closely with the association from its inception. More than 60 colleagues are working today for Violence Prevention Network in all over Germany.
Dr Cécile Kashetu Kyenge is a Member of the European Parliament where she is Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). She has taken part in research programmes on immigration, taught in several universities and remains very active in promoting citizenship of immigrants. She also founded the intercultural association DAWA, which aims at promoting mutual knowledge and the development of Italo-African cooperation.
Stavros Lambrinidis is the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. Previously, he was an Ambassador and Minister for Foreign Affairs in Greece. As Vice-President of the European Parliament, he was in charge of International Relations and the Parliament’s Communications Policy, and the Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. He has been parliamentary rapporteur on issues such as the promotion of security and fundamental rights in the internet age; the integration of immigrants in Europe; the protection of critical infrastructures against terrorist threats; and shadow rapporteur for the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector.
Sylvia Lancaster OBE has been a professional youth worker for 30 years working in many different projects including youth information, girls work, gender issues and careers etc. The murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007 was the catalyst for her setting up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation a charity to raise awareness of intolerance and prejudice faced by alternative subcultures on a daily basis. As part of the work undertaken the charity has developed an educational resource to take into secondary school / universities and other settings; it has been used in around 800 schools throughout the UK. They have recently expanded and developed this into a primary school resource which has also shown positive results. She is an independent member of the UK Government Cross Party Advisory Group on Hate Crime at the UK Ministry of Justice. She is excited to be able to take part in the educational workshop and discuss best practise with others from around the EU. She anticipates an interesting and informative debate about diversity and inclusion, and the ways to take this forward in a positive and dynamic way.
Marju Lauristin is an Estonian Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Group of Socialists and Democrats and has acted as rapporteur to the data protection directive, and shadow rapporteur to the data protection regulation. She has an academic career in social sciences and is a Professor at Tartu Universit. She also helped create ‘Rahvarinne’, the first large-scale independent political movement in Estonia since the beginning of the Soviet occupation. She has also held various posts in Estonian government and parliament such as the Social Affairs Minister and deputy speaker. She looks forward to an inclusive debate on fundamental rights in the digital era. In these troubled times protecting fundamental rights is of utmost importance and we cannot afford to make any concessions.
Mary Lawlor is Executive Director of Front Line Defenders, an organisation she established in 2001 to meet the immediate security and protection needs of human rights defenders at risk around the world. She is widely respected in the international human rights movement and has been a leading figure in developing rapid response mechanisms and institutional responses for human rights defenders.
Elin Lilijenbladh is a board member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO). She has long been engaged with civil society on gender issues and LGBTQI rights. In her activism, she mainly focused on strategy, policy making and advocacy from a human rights perspective. She recently represented IGLYO at the UNESCO International Ministerial Meeting ‘Education Sector Responses to Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression’ where Ministers affirmed the need to take effective action to address homophobic and transphobic violence in education. She has experience in research on gender and international humanitarian law, and is currently working as a lawyer at the administrative court in Stockholm, Sweden.
Michael Georg Link is Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw. Prior to that, Mr Link served as the 1st Deputy Foreign Minister, the Minister of State for European Affairs and member of the Cabinet of Ministers of the German Government in charge of OSCE, EU, Council of Europe and NATO affairs. In the OSCE comprehensive concept of security, fundamental freedoms play a critical and indispensable role. It is imperative to guarantee their respect in the EU.
Ulrike Lunacek is the first openly lesbian Vice-President of the European Parliament. In her work in foreign affairs as well as inside the EU, she focuses on rule of law, human rights, women's rights, and the rights of ethnic and sexual minorities. Before that she has worked as a journalist, interpreter and activist on development, feminist and LGBTI issues, and taught German to refugees. She views the Fundamental Rights Forum as an excellent opportunity to look at current strategies, progress and setbacks on fundamental rights from different walks of life inside the EU - and looks forward to stimulating discussions!
Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny
Executive City Councillor for Cultural Affairs, Science and Sports of the City of Vienna.
Rauno Merisaari is Ambassador for Human Rights and Democracy and a leading expert in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in charge of the government’s international democracy promotion policies. His portfolio also includes the government´s human rights report to the parliament, rights of the Roma and Holocaust remembrance issues. He has also been the head of the Development Minister´s cabinet of development cooperation, a senior adviser on human rights, and Secretary-General of the UN Association. He believes the EU must keep a high profile in international human rights policy and this requires a better consistency between external and internal activities on human and fundamental rights.
Dunja Mijatović is the OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media. Prior to that she was President of the European Platform of Regulatory Agencies, the largest media regulators’ network in the world. She was also one of the founders of the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and helped establish a self-regulatory Press Council and the first Free Media Helpline in South East Europe. For more than two decades she has worked on human rights, media law and regulation, institution building in transition states and ways to deal with hate speech and dangerous speech in complex post-war societies. She has extensive experience in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms through international dialogue and cooperation, media law and policy and Internet governance.
Angelika Mlinar is an Austrian politician, lawyer and entrepreneur. She worked for the European Commission in Slovenia during enlargement before she became programme manager at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development in Vienna. She was also the Secretary-General of the Council of Carinthian Slovenes in Austria, where she established her own business. She is a Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. As member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, she is focusing on migration and asylum policy and has organised several fact-finding missions to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. She actively promotes Human and Women’s rights and speaks up for a united and strong Europe. She is also a vice-president of NEOS – Das Neue Österreich, and president of NEOS Lab, the group's think-tank and academy.
Fiyaz Mughal is Founder and Director of Faith Matters and Tell MAMA, a national Islamophobia monitoring project in the UK. For many years has been active involved in cross-government initiatives to prevent radicalisation and extremism, and to tackle hate crime. Previously he was a UK Councillor and Deputy President of one of the UK’s main political parties. Fiyaz believes that the Forum can play a leading role on the migration issues that are impacting on Europe whilst maintaining the pluralism that is so fundamental to Europe. This also means challenging things like anti-Muslim hatred and antisemitism which remain latent in our communities and society.
Nils Muižnieks is the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. He has been working in the field of human rights for the past two decades. This includes being Director of the Advanced Social and Political Research Institute at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Latvia, Chairman of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Latvian minister responsible for social integration, anti-discrimination, minority rights, and civil society development, and Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies. He has published extensively on racism, discrimination and minority rights.
Matthias Naske is CEO & Artistic Director of the Wiener Konzerthaus. He is also president of the contemporary music festival, Wien Modern. He led the Établissement Public Salle de Concerts Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte for ten years and is founding Director General of the Philharmonie Luxembourg. He was also in charge of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the Musikalische Jugend Osterreichs.
Paul Nemitz is Director for Fundamental Rights and Union Citizenship in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers. He has held posts in the Legal Service of the European Commission, the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Development Cooperation and in other Directorates-General. He has a lot of experience acting on behalf of the Commission before the European Courts and has published extensively on EU law. He teaches EU law as a visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.
Doz. Mag. Alf Netek, MA
Alf Netek is Chief Marketing Officer at Kapsch. He has extensive international knowledge and expertise in marketing, and is responsible for all corporate communications at Kapsch, one of the most successful technology companies in Austria and worldwide. He has been active in supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Valeriu Nicolae is a human rights activist, film producer, writer, best known for his activities with children in one of the worst ghettos in Bucharest. He works for the Romanian Government, as State Counsellor at the Prime Minister’s Chancellery and as State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly. He is also the regional advocacy Director for World Vision for Eastern Europe, Middle East, South Caucasus region. He was also appointed to the Board of Trustees supervising the activity of the UN OHCHR representing Europe. He is the winner of the European Parliament’s 2013 European Citizenship Award. He is the founder of Policy Center for Roma and Minorities, a Bucharest-based think-tank. He is also the co-founder of the European Roma Policy Coalition, which includes some of the most active NGOs in the field of human rights (Amnesty International, Minority Rights Group, Open Society Institute, European Roma Rights Center). During the last nine years, he has worked as a senior consultant for the Open Society Institute and some European Institutions, director and advocacy director for a network of European Roma NGOs (ERGO). Previously he was the deputy director and interim executive director of the European Roma Information Office in Brussels and the European Chair for the European Network Against Racism. He has been nominated three times in a row by the Foreign Policy (2012, 2013, 2014) as one of the top 100 Romanian thinkers for his contribution to the Romanian civil society. In his view, increasing focus on situation of the EU economy, employment and security needs to be balanced by reaffirming our most important values - European fundamental rights. Racism, bigotry and extremist nationalism cannot save Europe but rather the opposite - it can break it. We, Europeans, need strong and independent watchdog organisations capable of preventing a divided and belligerent European continent. We need the Fundamental Rights Agency to be both more visible but also more effective in influencing the European and national policies meant to ensure that the most vulnerable and most discriminated are protected within the EU.
Manfred Nowak is the Vice-Chairperson and Austrian Member of the FRA Management Board. He is also Professor of International law and Human Rights at Vienna University, Co-Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and the chair of the independent human rights commission at the Austrian Ministry of Interior. From 2004 to 2010, he served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Before that Mr Nowak was a judge at the Human Rights Chamber in Bosnia (1996-2003). He has published more than 500 books and articles on international, constitutional, administrative and human rights law, and has received numerous awards in the field of human rights.
Michael O’Flaherty is FRA’s current Director. Previously, he was Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has also been the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In addition, he has held a number of senior UN posts in the field, supported UN headquarters in various human rights programmes, been a Vice-Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Committee and has sat on the advisory boards of numerous human rights groups and journals internationally. His recent publications include volumes on the law and practice of human rights field operations, the professionalization of human rights field work and human rights diplomacy.
Emily O’Reilly was first elected as the European Ombudsman in July 2013. Following the European Parliament elections, she was re-elected for a five year mandate in December 2014. As European Ombudsman she investigates maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. She was awarded the Schwarzkopf Europe Award in 2017 for her work.
Per Olsson Fridh
Per Olsson Fridh is State Secretary to the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke. He is a member of the Riksdag and the Chair of the Swedish Green Party in Stockholm. He has served at the Swedish Centre for International Youth Exchange, the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations, the Education, Youth and Culture Council, Stockholm City and at CISV International (formerly Children’s International Summer Villages). He has also served at the Swedish delegation to the UN and in the European Commission Expert Group on the Mobility of Young Volunteers.
Evelyne Paradis is the Executive Director of ILGA-Europe. Evelyne joined ILGA-Europe in 2005. Before joining ILGA-Europe, she worked with the UN High Commission for Human Rights, the Council of Europe and human rights NGOs in Canada. She views the Fundamental Rights Forum as a timely opportunity to assess what leadership on human rights issues, including equality for LGBTI people, should look like in 2016, during a critical time for the EU. The Forum also offers a chance for a wide range of European stakeholders to work together on a common vision to advance human rights in Europe, a vision that is built on the values bringing us together.
Kirsi Pimiä is Finland’s non-discrimination Ombudsman and a lawyer by training. Her work covers all discrimination grounds except gender. The Ombudsman also works towards improving the rights, living conditions and status of groups at risk of discrimination. She also supervises the removal of foreign nationals from Finland subjected to refusal of entry or deportation, and is the national rapporteur on human trafficking. Previously, she held many civil servant positions in the Finnish parliament, at the Prime Minister’s Office, at the Ministry of Justice, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and at the University of Helsinki. Fundamental rights and human rights issues have always been important for her.
Soraya Post is a Roma activist and a member of the European Parliament. She is the first MEP from an ideologically antiracist and feminist party and the first Romani in Swedish history to stand as a priority candidate for a political party. A Roma rights activist focusing on the empowerment of Romani women and the self-determination of Romani society, she has been a Human Rights Strategist in the County Council for West Sweden. She also founded a Romani school, the International Roma Women's network where she was president, and was one of the founders and vice-president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum. She has been an advisor to government bodies in Sweden as well as the Council of Europe and the European Commission, and a member of government inquiries on human rights, discrimination and Roma rights. She is currently a member of the Swedish Commission against anti-Gypsyism. She believes the EU is currently at a crossroads that will decide its future. The rising right wing extremism in Europe has grown to an extent that it is influencing mainstream politics, and in some countries it has become part of the norm. We see it in the inability of political leaders to take their full responsibility for the migration situation in the world and we see it in the deteriorating situation for minorities such as Roma, for women and for LGBTI-people. If we do not change this development in time, it will be the ruin of our democratic societies. The Forum will be an important opportunity to discuss how to safeguard fundamental rights and put the EU back on track again.
Shalini Randeria is Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna and Professor of Social Anthropology/Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Her research in India addresses issues of forced displacement and dispossession as well as the collective rights of local communities and their right to livelihood. Her view is that to better protect and promote fundamental rights we need to consider localised legal struggles for justice along with their entanglements in global agendas and institutional settings.
Marie Ringler founded Ashoka Austria in 2011 and since 2015 is also one of Ashoka’s Europe Directors. She is also responsible for Ashoka’s work in Central and Eastern Europe. Ashoka is the world's largest network for Social Entrepreneurs founded in 1980 and is active in over 80 countries. In the late 90s she helped create an art institution dedicated to exploring the social implications of new technologies. She was Member of the Regional Parliament and City Council of Vienna from 2001 until 2010 where she focused on developing policies to drive innovation in society. “Lets co-create concrete solutions to Europe`s problems. Here and now.”
Mary Robinson is President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. She has been the President of Ireland, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa and Special Envoy on Climate Change. She has received numerous honours and awards including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and has served as Honorary President of Oxfam International. She is Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business, in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the European Climate Foundation. She is also Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin.
Gianfranco Rosi is a director, producer and screenwriter. Born in Asmara, Eritrea in during the country’s war of independence, he was evacuated without his family to Italy. He then lived in Rome and Istanbul before taking up studies at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. His graduation film BOATMAN screened at festivals including Sundance, Locarno, Toronto and Amsterdam. Mr Rosi’s documentary about Rome, SACRO GRA, won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2013, and his 2016 film Fire at Sea won the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. He is a guest lecturer at New York University Film School, and the CCC in Mexico City and teaches documentary at SUPSI in Switzerland and at the Accademia del l’immagine in L’Aquila.
Salla Saastamoinen is the Director for Equality in the Directorate-General Justice and Consumers, European Commission since 2014. The Equality Directorate contributes to the development and consolidation of an area of freedom, justice and equality, ensuring that citizens benefit from progress made at the European level. To this end, the Directorate develops and implements policies to combat discrimination on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, promotes awareness on gender equality and non-discrimination and coordinates policy developments in respect of the Roma. The Directorate is also responsible for relations with the European Institute for Gender Equality.
She headed the Fundamental rights and rights of the child Unit and the Civil Justice Policy Unit in Directorate-General Justice before taking over her current post. She is a lawyer from the University of Helsinki, Finland and has worked in the Commission for 20 years.
Judith Sargentini is a member of the European Parliament. She represents the Dutch Green Party and coordinates the Green/EFA group in the civil liberties committee. In her view, if we would measure our wealth according to Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product, everybody would see how important fundamental rights are and what an advantage it is that the European Union protects these. Safety and predictability are crucial for our wellbeing. We can enjoy an education, go to court, join a club and speak our mind. Neither the asylum crisis nor a terrorist threat should lead to lowering our standards of our freedoms and fundamental rights. Questioning our nationality, cutting back on legal aid, criminalising our faith or judging our sharp tongue, or those of our neighbours and guests will eventually lower our score on the Gross National Happiness Index.
Ula Schneider started a regular urban art project, ‘SOHO in Ottakring’, in 1999. This project focuses on aspects such as urban living and development, artistic intervention and interaction in the local environment and public life. A key aspect is the collaboration between national and international artists, cultural workers, and with local groups and institutions as well as the proactive use of public space during the biennial two-week festival in May. Socially engaged art outside of the institutions is flexible enough to respond to changing society, to create and make all kinds of situations in the urban landscape visible.
Max Schrems is a lawyer, author and founder of europe-v-facebook.org. Since 2011 he has worked on the enforcement of EU data protection law in various ways, including procedures before different data protection authorities and a class action with more than 25,000 members which is currently pending at the Austrian Supreme Court. He has succeeded in his challenge against the "Safe Harbour" system at the European Court of Justice, based on the disclosures of Edward Snowden and has worked on the EU data protection reform through projects like lobbyplag.eu.
Frauke Seidensticker is the Chairperson of FRA’s Management Board and its representative for Germany. She is an executive coach and a senior expert in non-profit management with a strong track record in strategic governance, change management and institution-building. Frauke looks back to 25 years of successful leadership in human rights organisations, with key positions as the Secretary General of the Swiss Section of Amnesty International and member of the Executive Board of the German Institute for Human Rights. She views the FRF as the place for leaders and thinkers in the EU to engage in debates about the most urgent fundamental rights topics. New perspectives, unexpected solutions and innovative approaches will, backed by political will, offer the chance to seize the present challenges as a big opportunity to further stabilise the EU's firm foundation in human rights.
Dr Geoffrey Shannon is the Irish Government’s Special Rapporteur for Child Protection, a Chairperson of the Adoption Authority of Ireland and the Irish Expert Member on the Commission on European Family Law. He has recently been appointed by the Irish Garda Commissioner to audit the emergency child protection powers exercised by An Garda Siochana. He was previously Chairperson of the Independent Child Death Review Group. He has received several awards for his work in the area of national and international family law. These include the 2005 JCI Outstanding Person of the Year Award, the 2006 Canon Maurice Handy Award and the 2013 Irish Law Award. He is also a prolific author and has written leading texts on national and international child and family law. In addition, he is the editor of the Irish Journal of Family Law.
Laurène Souchet is currently Policy Adviser at the European Patients’ Forum (EPF). EPF is a not-for-profit, independent umbrella organisation of patients’ organisations in the EU, with 67 member organisations. Its mission is to to ensure that the patients’ community drives policies and programmes that affect patients’ lives, to bring changes empowering them to be equal citizens in the EU. Her current areas of work include: equity of access to healthcare; policies to tackle discrimination encountered by patients in healthcare; education; employment; data protection; and eHealth. Working for an organisation that advocate for the rights to health and seek to tackle health inequalities and discrimination in healthcare, she looks forward to connecting with other organisations sharing similar goals at the Forum, to reflect on solutions for inclusion and empowerment.
Christine Souffrant is the Founder of Vendedy (a mobile network connecting global travellers to street vendors of developing countries) and Managing Director of Startup Grind Dubai, which is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, interviewing leading CEO’s and startup influencers in the Middle East & Silicon Valley. She is a globally recognised speaker and a Haitian American entrepreneur with 7 years of business management experience across 30+ countries. She regularly speaks on leadership, disruptive entrepreneurship and the social impact of innovation. She is looking forward to speaking at the 2016 FRA Fundamental Rights Forum to engage participants in a conversation about the state of the world's 2 billion street vendors and their influence on society and the economy.
Dr. Michael Spindelegger has extensive experience in international relations through his work in the Federal Government of the Republic of Austria. In 2008, he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs and he served for five years. From 2013 until 2014 he served as Minister of Finance. In January 2016 he was appointed Director General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).
ICMPD is an inter-governmental migration organisation with an European focus but world-wide coverage. With over 20 years of experience of providing assistance to states in dealing with the migration phenomenon and in developing effective migration policy tools, ICMPD today is an organisation with 15 member states, 170 staff members and activities taking place across Europe, Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and South America. ICMPD also holds UN Observer Status.
ICMPD has been a key European player in the migration field and it strives for comprehensive, sustainable and future-oriented migration governance.
David Stanton TD is the Irish Minister of State for Justice at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration. In the previous Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), he was Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. He was also the Chairperson of the Working Group of Committee Chairs. He has led the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality’s involvement on numerous policies and laws, such as legal capacity, domestic and sexual violence, prostitution, bankruptcy, firearms, penal reform, the new Garda Authority, and the Human Rights and Equality Commission. The Committee can also be credited with the establishment of a National Missing Persons Day.
Maria Stavropoulou is Director of the Asylum Service of Greece which is the first specialist state body in the country adjudicating applications for international protection. Before that, she worked with different agencies of the United Nations, including UNHCR and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She has published extensively on refugee and displacement issues. She believes in the establishment of a single European Asylum System as the only means to ensure that refugees reaching Europe will be afforded international protection in accordance with international and EU law.
Aleksander Stępkowski is Deputy Minister at Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a Professor at Warsaw University’s Faculty of Law and Administration. In his academic research, he has focused on private and public comparative law, and political and legal thought, especially in determining the impact philosophy has on the shape of legal institutions. Previously, he was Director of the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture and actively supported human rights protection at the forum of the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the European Committee of Social Rights. He was a fellow of the Foundation for Polish Science, Manchester University, Oxford University, and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Helga Stevens is a Member of the European Parliament. Previously, she was a Member of the Flemish Parliament and the Belgian Senate, as well as Ghent city council. In 1993, she was the first deaf person to be awarded a law degree in Belgium. She has also been the director of the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) for several years. Her main areas of interest are disability and equality, as well as migration and privacy. Her vision is that the full implementation of all fundamental and human rights can only be achieved when people with disabilities cease to be discriminated against and excluded.
Katarzyna Szymielewicz is President of Panoptykon Foundation, a Polish NGO defending human rights in the context of contemporary forms of surveillance. She is also Vice-President of European Digital Rights, a coalition of 33 privacy and civil rights organisations.
In the context of empowering rights holders, it is essential to discuss the missing rights of those under surveillance, especially vulnerable groups such as refugees. These include: the right to information about data being processed, even in national security contexts; the right to understand how decisions have been reached (especially if any form of profiling was involved); and the right to independent oversight and appeal. It is our ethical responsibility to take these challenges very seriously.
Astrid Thors is the current High Commissioner on National Minorities. She previously was a Member of the Finnish Parliament from 2004 to 2013. She also served as Minister of Migration and European Affairs (2007–2011) and was a Member of the European Parliament (1996–2004).
Frans Timmermans is the First Vice-President of the European Commission. He is in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. His responsibilities include ensuring the coherence of Commission proposals or initiatives with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. He also guides the work of the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality and the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs.
Before that, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of European Affairs of the Netherlands and a Member of the Dutch Parliament. He was also a Senior Advisor and Private Secretary to the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE, Max van der Stoel. He has been unequivocal in his call for solidarity and tolerance in European societies. In October 2015, he organised the Commission's first Fundamental Rights Colloquium, devoted to ‘Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe’.
Kees van Baar
Kees van Baar is the Human Rights Ambassador in the Netherlands. This is one of the more important faces of Dutch human rights policy, both in the Netherlands and in the international arena. He maintains close contact with civil society and as a speaker disseminates human rights policy in both Dutch and international fora. He specifically aims for dialogue and cooperation, engages in discussions with authorities and civil society organisations, and speaks at universities. Immediately prior to this, he was the first Netherlands Ambassador to South Sudan. He has also served at the Dutch embassies in Lusaka, Moscow, Jakarta and Nairobi and at the ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, working on a range of issues like security, arms control, human rights, environment, fragile states, peace keeping and building, reconstruction and development. From 2009 to 2011, he was the Country Director Kenya for the PharmAccess Foundation, a Dutch organisation that works on affordable access to quality healthcare in Africa.
Lora Vidović is the Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia and current Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions. Previously, she worked as the Head of the UNICEF Office in Croatia and as Deputy Ombudswoman for Children. She believes the Fundamental Rights Forum is an opportunity to connect with human rights practitioners and build a stronger platform around human rights values in Europe.
Corinna Wicher has been working in various positions within Germany's Federal Office of Migration and Refugees since 2006. She currently oversees bilateral exchange and cooperation with European and international partner organisations, resettlement and relocation admissions, and integrated return management. She views the Forum as a platform for the exchange of information and expert knowledge, and for sharing best practices.
Wojciech Wiewiórowski is Assistant European Data Protection Supervisor. Before this, he served as Inspector General for the Protection of Personal Data at the Polish Data Protection Authority. He has also been Vice Chairman of the Working Party Article 29 Group. He has also been adviser in the field of e-government and information society for the Polish Minister of Interior and Administration, as well as Vice-president of the Regulatory Commission of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church. He has written numerous publications on personal data protection, IT law, e-government and legal informatics. He is also a member of the Polish Association for European Law.
Petter F. Wille
Petter F. Wille is Director of Norway’s national human rights institution. Most of his career has been spent in the Norwegian Foreign Service as, for example, the Ambassador/Special Envoy for Human Rights, Norway’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, and Deputy Director General in the Department for the United Nations. He has also been a deputy judge in a Norwegian town court. In addition, he has written books and articles on human rights and teaches human rights and international law at the University of Oslo. He views the forum as a unique possibility to meet colleagues and human rights experts, and to participate in discussions on highly topical issues.
Jan Wouters is Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations, and founding Director of the Institute for International Law and of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at the University of Leuven. As a visiting professor elsewhere, he also teaches EU external relations law and comparative EU-US perspectives on international human rights law. He is a Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts and is President of the United Nations Association Flanders Belgium. He is coordinator of the large-scale EU-funded research project FRAME, ‘Fostering Human Rights Among European (External and Internal) Policies’.
Lucia Žitňanská is Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. Previously she was a member of the Slovak National Council. She is also an associate professor at the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in Bratislava. In her view, we live in a time, when we have to step back and return to the fundamental idea of human rights. After two World Wars, we had never thought we would have to return to basics. We are continuously taking steps to counter discrimination in our societies. We have built a strong human rights infrastructure and yet we see communities untouched by our efforts. It has become more important than ever to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law through education and public discourse.
Shada Islam is responsible for policy oversight of Friends of Europe’s initiatives, activities and publications. She has special responsibility for issues related to the Future of Europe, migration, the Asia Programme and the Development Policy Forum. She is Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin) where she teaches Asia-Europe relations and has is a fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She has been named as one of twenty most influential women in Brussels by Politico.
Shada is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and has previously worked on Asian and migration issues at the European Policy Centre. She is one of the authors of Friends of Europe’s much-read ‘Frankly Speaking’ commentary and is sought after as a speaker, commentator, columnist and moderator at high-level European and global events. She also continues to write on EU foreign and security policy, EU-Asia relations and trade and development issues for leading Asian, European and international publications and academic journals.
Friso Roscam Abbing is FRA's Adviser on Communication. He was previously a European Commission spokesman and Cabinet member, and headed the Sector in the Commission dealing with asylum policy. Before that he led the EU Office of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, a European network of 96 NGOs in 40 European countries protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people.