At the Fundamental Rights Forum

This week I will be blogging from Vienna, where I am at the Fundamental Rights Forum, organised by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. The Forum gathers more than 650 participants around the topics of inclusion, refugee protection and the digital age, from the angles of innovation, governance, empowerment and rights-compliance. As Social Platform we are represented with our President Jana Hainsworth, as a speaker in workshop 4 on the Europe 2020 Strategy, and with our member of the Management Committee, Allan Päll who will be speaking in workshop 7 on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

On 20 June I participated in an interesting Fundamental Rights Hackathon, and the evening opening reception at Vienna city hall.

Hackathon’s originated as a way for people working with technology (such a coders and graphic designer) to in a very short time period solve software challenges. Now it takes place across the globe on a wide variety of topics. It aims to be output-oriented, fast paced, self-organised, visual and tangible. During the morning session we discussed some of our most urgent human rights challenges, and in the afternoon we focused on how they could be addressed with tech solutions.

I pitched the idea of an online Mentorship platform for human rights actors. I started from my own need to connect more with human rights actors on grassroot level to ‘reality check’ my work with European policy-making, so I can have better impact. I also recalled human rights actors sharing feelings of loneliness in their work and the need to connect with others. A digital platform for Mentorship could allow individual human rights actors that would like to share their experiences and skills to both advice and learn from others. It would build capacity and connection between rights actors across sectors, countries etc. Everyone engaged with human rights has valuable experiences to be both a Mentor and a Mentee, for example on where to start if one wants to work in the field, how to use social media to rights-holders, or what are good participatory methods to engage disadvantaged groups.

Other interesting ideas discussed were about ways to communicate in an accessible way also to people that are for example illiterate, how to respond to hate speech on social media with information about rights and obligations, and how to make people aware of their ancestors migration routes to better understand our time. These ideas will be furthered developed by the ‘techies’ that took part in the Hackathon and presented on Wednesday at the Forum. See also #RightsHack.

The opening reception took place at Vienna’s city hall and Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, the Executive City Councillor told about the city being rebuilt after World War II on the idea of inclusion; by investing in high quality infrastructure, including healthcare, education, social housing and culture. Today, Vienna hosts large numbers of migrants and several international organisations.

Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission spoke about how populist politicians feed people’s fear of exclusion, loss, children’s future and ‘the other’. The Vice-President mentioned some of the Commission’s latest initiative linked to the topics of the Forum: On migration and refugee protection he said that the Commission is putting fundamental rights at the core of border management, and are prioritising the issue of more legal avenues to Europe. Inclusion is being tackled via the EU Action Plan on Integration for Third Country Nationals, and Mr Timmermans urged Member States to once and for all adopt the EU wide Equal Treatment Directive. Among the digital initiatives the EU Code of Conduct has been agreed by Twitter, Google and Facebook, the Data Protection reform package presented, and the Audiovisual Media Directive is being revised.

Follow us on Twitter @social_platform @JanaHainsworth @allanpall @aryngbeck #RightsForum

Read my blog on the Forum’s website on how accessible digital services are means to social inclusion

Read also my blog posts from the second day and the two last days.