Romanian Institute for Human Rights
One of the tasks of the Romanian Institute for Human Rights is to inform “the public bodies, non-governmental organizations and citizens, particularly by disseminating the international documents, practices and procedures in the field of human rights…” (Art. 3 paragraph b in Law No. 9/1991).
One important way RIHR fulfils this duty is organizing events in the form of conferences, seminars, symposia, colloquia, roundtables where acknowledged specialists in the field of human rights, both from inside and outside the Institute, from Romania and from abroad, are invited to participate as moderators and lecturers, with a view to present and debate together with the participants in the event on various topics related to human rights.
The participants to such events are representatives of those socio-professional categories who by virtue of their position and/or profession come to contact with various members of the civil society, and in the relationships established with the latter human rights standards and principles should take precedence. These persons include: representatives of the legal profession – judges, lawyers, prosecutors; representatives of the police, gendarmes, penitentiary staff; representatives of the staff in educational units – pre-school educators, primary school teachers, pre-university and university teachers; representatives of the written and audio-visual press; physicians, biologists, chemists, physicists, etc. Last but not less important, the participants also include, almost without exception, pupils and students as well as representatives of NGOs whose activity and interests are related to human rights.
Unrepeatable events devoted to themes or moments related to human rights
International Women’s Day - The Role of Women in Climate Policy -
Representativeness and the Right to participate in the decision-making process
Women in Leadership - for a Future of Equality is this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, in celebration of the efforts of women and girls around the world and their contribution to shaping a safer future and to ensure the necessary social reconstruction following the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the message formulated by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, on the occasion of March 8 it was highlighted the transformative role that equal participation of women can play in community life and in the fight against climate change. He stated that “when women are in parliament, countries adopt more stringent climate change policies.”
The choice of this year’s theme is in line with the priority theme of the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women - Women and representativeness, equal participation in decision-making - and also with the campaign Generation Equality which promotes the rights of women in decision-making in all areas of lifewithin the community, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid tasks and domestic work, combating all forms of violence against women and girls and access to health care services that meet their needs.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights (RIHR) participated in the webinar on Women, human rights and access to safe drinking water, an event organized by Human Right 2 water. The webinar moderated by Amanda Loeffen brought together women experts from around the world who presented the benefits of including women in decision-making forums. During the debate session, in the context of promoting the importance of achieving the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, RIHR stressed that in its recent publications and research flagged the situation of the right to water and sanitation in Romania and infrastructure issues, especially in rural areas, as well as the effects of climate change on human rights, highlighting the impact that environmental policies and their implementation could have on fundamental rights and freedoms.
Although they play an important role in household water management and represent half of the world’s population, women around the world still have limited roles in making decisions about infrastructure and water supply policies. There is still no proportionate and equitable degree of representation for women to decide on drinking water supply and infrastructure, although they can play a major role in resolving the water crisis. The right to safe drinking water and sanitation requires the participation of communities in a non-discriminatory way so that the goals of sustainable development can be achieved.
Gender inequality is a global problem that affects human development and productivity. Ignoring women’s potential and neglecting their inclusion in projects and policies on resource use and management will result in major economic losses, as stated in the 2015 McKinsey Global Institute Report, which estimated the global economic value of women at $12 trillions.
The most pressing issues facing women in exercising their rights globally were analyzed during the webinar, such as the situation of women’s representation in Brazil, water supply in vulnerable areas of South Africa, statistics on women’s employment in the labor market and some examples of good practices with the participation of experts Raquel Dodge, Attorney General of the Supreme Court of Brazil, Nchedi Sophia Maphokga-Moripe, Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa, Mekala Krishnan, McKinsey Global Institute,Maria Teresa Gutierrez, International Labor Organization, Mariet Verhof-Cohen, Women for Water Partnership.
Online conference ”Access to education and human rights education in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”
The webinar organized by ”The Asia-Europe Foundation” (September 23) and moderated by the winner of the UNESCO ”Human Rights Education Prize”, Vitit Muntarbhorn, benefited from the expertise of three speakers with extensive experience in human rights education: Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Frank Elbers (researcher at the Research Institute of the University of Bucharest - ICUB) and Ana Perona-Fjeldstad.
The speeches held by the three addressed three distinct directions of orientation:
In her speech, Sriprapha Petcharamesree highlighted the many benefits of online education (flexibility, immediate feedback, development of young persons’ skills in relation to information technology), but also highlighted the weaknesses and challenges of transferring the educational process exclusively to the digital environment in the current pandemic context (lack of interaction, increasing inequalities, pronounced vulnerability of marginalized groups, frustration caused by lack of technical skills, lack of access to internet services). Concluding the speech, it was noted that ensuring access to education is conditioned by the realization of other rights (economic and social).
Frank Elbers’ presentation changed the approach, focusing on university education and reviewing the new ways of teaching-learning process that the context of the current crisis has generated, including the understanding of the roles of students and teachers. Online learning and blended learning have led to a greater focus on individual learning styles and on student’s perception, not as a receiver of knowledge, but as an active participant in their own learning process.
Education professionals were the topic of the last speech, Ana Perona-Fjeldstad supporting the need to think creatively and innovatively about quality educational materials, appropriate to the online environment. Preparing teachers to know the less positive facets of the digital environment (personal data privacy issues, cyberbullying, the existence of multiple virtual identities) and to further motivate students through games, simulations and attractive materials could transform a crisis like the current one into a useful experience. Finally, it was recalled that this phase of experimentation should become a starting point for further research, to distinguish between advantages and disadvantages, to decide the ideal ratio between online and traditional education, and to evaluate the results to find out what can be adopted and what can be changed.
After the Q&A session, five major topics were identified as basis of future debates: safety in schools and on the internet of the participants in the educational process; adaptability of pedagogical methods; access to resources (internet and devices); resilience and ability to respond to challenges (by joining school-parent-community efforts or through local/regional partnerships); inclusion.
Erasmus+ ”Two Moons” Project presentation event
On September 22, ”Habilitas Asociation – Resources and Training Center” organizedan online event, which comprised multiple sessions. The presentation event of the Erasmus+ ”Two Moons” Project and its results was followed by a debate and a response session, after watching the dramatizaton of the life stories shared by the old persons, which were collected within the project.
Now at the end, the project that united four countries (Italy, Finland, Romania, Ireland) in an effort to raise awareness on the rights of seniors and strengthen their capacity for action, resulted in the development of a brochure entitled ”My human rights, my wellbeing”, the set up of a documentary theater and the making of an audio material called ”Listen to my story!” (a selection of 6 monologues based on interviews with the old personsfrom the participating countries). Educational materials are available here: https://twomoons.eu/outputs/.
In the following period, depending on the evolution of the global health situation, the project should include trainings organized in the participating countries, based on the designed materials, targeting the old persons in senior clubs, carers, medical and social care professionals, public authorities.
Participants (representatives of the General Directorates for Social Assistance and Child Protection, Social Assistance Directorates, White-Yellow Cross Foundation, European Association for Social Innovation, National Scientific Research Institute for Labour and Social Protection, Romanian Alzheimer’s Society Branches, Romanian Institute for Human Rights) had the opportunity to debate on the presented life experiences, and to propose solutions to remedy situations of violation of old persons’ rights.
A new internship for students of the Faculty of Law - Titu Maiorescu University
Based on the partnership between Romanian Institute for Human Rights and Titu Maiorescu University, between August 24 and September 18, an online internship was held for students of the Faculty of Law.
The internship focused on familiarizing students with the theoretical and practical aspects of human rights.
From an organizational point of view, the internship was oriented towards the development of students’ analytical skills (objective reflected in the research papers written by students, on topics of choice from the field of human rights), as well as to raising their awareness towards an active involvement in pressing matters found at the level of the Romanian society (objective reflected in the online discussions held with students on Romanian society’s current issues, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights, ethnic discrimination, domestic violence and violence against women, preventing and combating bullying in schools, etc.).
With this in mind, the internship was carried out on two main directions of action: research and documentation in the field of human rights (dimension achieved with RIHR’s support, through activities such as: information, dissemination of specialized materials on their own initiative and at the request of students, theoretical and practical explanations regarding certain aspects related to human rights) and the identification of concrete ways of action for the transposition of the information obtained through the research and documentation activities (dimension achieved with RIHR’s support, through educational activities in the spirit of human rights by raising students’ awareness of humanistic values).
The objectives of the internship were met through debates organized by RIHR representatives, in which students questioned, under the guidance of the internship tutor, topics of interest such as: artificial intelligence and future human rights developments in the context of technology development; the importance of protecting women’s rights and the rights of the child for democratic societies, the correct way of understanding the content of free access to justice and the concrete possibilities of extending its application to the current Romanian society, promoting a social consciousness of acceptance and tolerance in order to achieve a non-discriminatory climate for individuals belonging to religious, ethnic or sexual minorities, etc.
The internship came to an end with a concluding session, during which RIHR representatives summarized the way this internship achieved the expected objectives, and students shared their views on the benefits of the internship at the Romanian Institure for Human Rights.
Internship for students of the Faculty of Law – Titu Maiorescu University
Based on the partnership between RIHR and Titu Maiorescu University, an online internship addressed to the students of the Faculty of Law was held between July 27 and August 21. The debates tackled topical subjects in the field of human rights, taking into account the particularities of the current health context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The internship pursued two main directions: (1) theoretical-explanatory, materialized through the information support provided by the Institute, in order to raise students’ awareness of the main mechanisms and tools in the field of human rights and (2) applicative, consisting in presenting essential aspects related to the organization andfunctioning of the Romanian Institute for Human Rights, as well as in the analysis of some representative cases from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The connection of the two directions of the internship took place during the virtual meetings held between RIHR representatives and students, during which were problematized issues such as exercising theright to health and education in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, protection and promotion of women’s rights, protection and the promotion of the rights of the child (with special regard to the issue of bullying), protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, the fight against trafficking in human beings, the fight against drug trafficking, etc. Each of these topics was analyzed in virtual meetings, in relation to the following elements: how the topic is reflected in the international and national legal framework, the degree of involvement of international and national authorities in the realization of rights and freedoms studied during the internship, the reaction of Romanian civil society to some sensitive issues in the field of human rights (such as domestic violence and violence against women, racial and ethnic discrimination, the rights of persons belonging to the LGBT community).
Students were explained the particular context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in which the protection and promotion of human rights takes place. In this regard, RIHR representatives presented the distinction between the limitations and derogations applicable to human rights, as well as the special conditions under which they may be placed.
Regarding the limitations of human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute stressed the essential need for the substance of human rights not to be affected and the limitations to concern exclusively the exercise of human rights. At the same time, RIHR representatives brought to the students’ attention the analysis of the main requirements necessary to be fulfilled in order to impose limitations on fundamental rights: (1) the restriction must be provided by law; (2) the restriction must aim at defending the national security of public order, health or morals, the rights and freedoms of citizens; the restriction may also concern the conduct of the criminal investigation; prevention of the consequences of a natural calamity, of a disaster or of a particularly serious disaster; (3) the existence of a need in a democratic society; (4) proportionality and non-discrimination. In the same framework were analyzed the conditions under which art. 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights is applied: situations of war or other public danger that threatens the life of the nation.
The activity carried out by the students during the internship consisted mainly of research, documentation, information - these being necessary both for the preparation of the practical paper elaborated on a topic of choice from the field of human rights, and for the participation of students in virtual debates focused on specific topics in the field of human rights.
The purpose of the internship was primarily oriented towards formative actions, as RIHR representatives aimed towards shaping a culture of human rights among young people through education, in the spirit of human rights, and instilling respect for values. Equally, the internship aimed at strengthening the analysis and synthesis skills of students, as well as their writing skills, by writing practical papers and participating in online debates.
Meeting of the Working Group for Awareness, Prevention, Combating, and Management of Bullying Situations
On July 30, RIHR participated in the meeting of the Working Group for Awareness, Prevention, Combating, and Management of Bullying Situations – an online event coordinated by General Secretariat of the Government.
The meeting began with a presentation of proposals made by civil society, schools, and professional associations on improving the activities related to awareness, prevention, control, and management of bullying.
An important stage of the debates was the highlighting of general, specific, and operational objectives pursued in the field, by the General Secretariat of the Government.
At the same time, the discussions revealed the need to emphasize, in legal regulations, the importance of preventing bullying/cyberbullying situations in the family, in the school environment, and in society; the main means identified for achieving this being the training of teachers and students in the spirit of tolerance and empathy. In order to ensure an efficient and performant training process, it was proposed to set up a national body of experts in the field of bullying. Participants also noted the need to hold public institutions, school inspectorates, students, and witnesses accountable in order to strengthen the actions to prevent and combat bullying.
Another important topic was the questioning of the legal nature of the document, which will include important aspects related to bullying. Taking into account the complexity of the approached subject and the need to establish a broad perspective of analysis of it, RIHR supported the opportunity to develop a strategic document on the subject.
The main argument formulated by RIHR to support the elaboration of a Strategy on awareness, prevention, combating, and management of bullying situations is that only a legal document as complex as a Strategy can include all the particular elements related to the bullying phenomenon: principles, causes, general, specific, and operational objectives, methods of investigating the phenomenon, specific means of action, quantification of the obtained results and their implementation in a concrete way.
In order to develop a comprehensive document in the field of bullying, the participants established, during this meeting, that the representatives of public authorities and institutions would advance, in the following period, proposals to develop the objectives communicated by the General Secretariat of the Government.
Meeting for social dialogue within the project ”Mental health – a priority on the public agenda!”
The Romanian Institute for Human Rights participated in a new debate within the project ”Mental health – a priority on the public agenda!”. The event, held on July 15, was organized by the Romanian Society for the Support of Older Persons and Sufferers with Alzheimer’s Diseases and the Habilitas Association - Resource and Vocational Training Center, and addressed two important themes of the priority axes proposed in the project.
The first debated topic was “Formal and informal education in the field of neurodegenerative disorders - with a focus on dementia”, in which were presented two types of training programs for professionals and home caregivers: informal and formal. Informal education is based on thematic workshops such as creative drama and storytelling, while formal programs offer a complex educational curriculum that can give formal and informal caregivers (family) a global vision of dementia and provide a useful tool in facing the daily challenges, while respecting the dignity and physical and emotional well-being of the patients. The agenda also included topics such as: centers of excellence for research in the field of neurodegenerative disorders and the global approach to the suffering of older persons diagnosed with NDD, in order to improve their quality of life. At the same time, the specialists present at the meeting provided examples of good practice projects in the training of professionals in the field of dementia.
The second part of the event addressed the issue of ”Improving the legislative framework, including regulations governing the rights of dementia patients and their carers”, reviewing existing legislation, with timely identification of the obstacles faced by the patients with dementia. Thus, the discussions focused on the need to protect the rights of patients with NDD through normative acts, and participants debated suggestions for improving interinstitutional cooperation at the level of authorities managing the issue of people with neurodegenerative disorders.
Developing an e-learning platform for future parents and young families
In the light of the partnership with the Prenatal Education Association (AEP), within the Erasmus+ Programme– Strategic Partnership Project No. 2019-1-RO01-KA204-063719, Romanian Institute for Human Rights was invited to participate between June 28-July15 in preparation of informational and educational materials for developing an e-learning platform.
The platform delivered within the project (coordinated in Romania by AEP, along with organizations from Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Latvia) will include useful information for future parents and young families, presented in an interactive and easily accessible, structured way (based on the World Health Organization recommendations) in seven priority areas: nutrition, mental and emotional health, smoking and substance use, genetic diseases and environmental factors, relationships, sexually transmitted diseases and the prevention of violence against women.
In this context, the purpose of the collaboration between RIHR and AEP was to bring additional information content to the existing data, so that each issue can be perceived and contextualized from a human rights perspective.The materials designed and published aimed to familiarize platform’s users with the presentation of the rights included in the project (health, healthy environment, preventing and combating violence, reproductive and sexual health, etc.), as well as the rights associated with them, regional and international level instruments that comprise the mentioned dispositions, the existence of some international days dedicated to each field, etc.
Internship for students of the Faculty of Law - University of Bucharest
Based on the agreement between the Romanian Institute for Human Rights (RIHR) and the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law, an online internship took place between July 1-15, with the participation of 1st and 2nd year students.
The internship was mainly oriented on three dimensions: (1) presentation of the mandate of the national human rights institutions (NHRI) and identification of the correspondences between it and the activities carried out by the Romanian Institute for Human Rights; (2) presentation of relevant human and international instruments and mechanisms for the protection of human rights relating to the systems of the UN, the Council of Europe and the European Union; (3) carrying out research works circumscribed to the topic Diachronic analysis of human rights (theoretical and legal evolutions).
Having both an educational and a scientific approach, the internship aimed to provide to the students informative and formative activities in order to follow an integrated approach to human rights issues. Thus, the internship brought together two complementary aspects: on one hand training students on the theoretical elements related to the promotion and protection of human rights, and on the other hand introducing students to scientific research specific to human rights, with particular attention to development attributes of information collection, analysis, and synthesis.
RIHR provided students the necessary support in writing the research papers related to the internship, by adapting the appropriate tools and measures such as counseling, guidance, information, and assistance to the particularities of the target group.
The personal style of the research papers (written as essays on a right/freedom chosen by the author) allowed highlighting the analytical and critical skills, based on a comprehensive and synoptic approach of the chosen topic. In addition to the development of the theoretical aspects inherent in scientific research, the students operationalized in their research papersthe placement of specific human rights issues in the current context, generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under RIHR’s guidance, students participated in debates on the challenges of enforcing the rights provided by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the current social context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following RIHR’s presentation of the rights and freedoms of the European Convention, during the debates, special attention was paid to access to justice as a component of the right to a fair trial and its relativization in the normative conditions of the two Presidential Decrees which established/extended the state of emergency at a national level (Decree no. 195/2020, Decree no. 240/2020).
Both normative acts regulate the continuation of judicial activity only in cases of special urgency, that will be identifiedper the guidance provided by the Superior Council of Magistracy, the Board of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (for cases within its jurisdiction) and the Governing Boards of the Courts of Appeal (for cases within their jurisdiction and for cases within the jurisdiction of the courts operating in their territorial constituency, which may be updated, as appropriate).
A unique issue brought to the students’ attention was the potential discriminatory nature of the continuity of the trial only for urgent cases; specifically, the objective criteria according to which urgent causes are identified have been questioned, stressing that where the urgency assessment criteria are not objective, correct and appropriate, there is a risk of discrimination between urgent and non-urgent causes.
The debates during the internship also focused on the analysis of how the application of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as well as freedom of assembly and association were relativized in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were explained that the restriction of the right to assembly has direct effects on religious freedom in the forum externumdimension of the latter. At the same time, the adequacy and proportionality of the measures restricting these freedoms in relation to the objective of protecting public health were questioned.
In the context of Institutes’ presentation of the theoretical aspects regarding the application of Article 14 and of the Additional Protocol no.12 of the European Convention, the students understood that the guarantees of equality and non-discrimination are trans-normative in the sense that they are found, as an intrinsic requirement, in the exercise of all rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the same time, it is important to emphasize the formative aspect of the internship, consisting of raising students’ awareness of human rights, raising awareness of the importance of human rights for Romanian society, encouraging actions compatible with values of tolerance, solidarity, equality, and non-discrimination.
Sustainable economic and social recovery based on an equality and human rights approach
On July 9, took place the online meeting on ”Sustainable economic and social recovery based on an equality and human rights approach”.The event was organized by the Collaborative Platform on Social and Economic Rightsconsisting of the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), of which RIHR is a member, and the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET).
The discussions tackled the consequences that the COVID-19 pandemic had on states, but also their ability to manage the negative effects of the crisis. The measures taken by the states have had a different impact on different categories of people, and highlighted issues that society already faces: inequality, cohesion, poverty, exclusion, access to community services, or the lack of such services. Among the categories of people most affected are children (from disadvantaged families), Roma, older persons, single-parent families, people with disabilities, migrants, but also health personnel.
Participants found that at the global and European regional level there is no positive attitude towards human rights in states’ approach/discourse on economic recovery, although the recovery measures should be based more than ever on the realization of economic and social rights, taking into account the provisions of the European Social Charter and the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, and respecting the commitments on sustainable development.
In this regard, it is necessary for human rights and equality institutions to become real partners for policy makers (government, parliament), so that measures taken at the national level respect the human rights-based approach. Therefore, these institutions must play an active role in developing recovery measures, by providing assistance, information, and expertise in accordance with their mandate.
Meeting of the working group for awareness, prevention, combating and management of bullying situations
On July 7, the Romanian Institute participated in the Meeting of the working group for awareness, prevention, combating and management of bullying situations–an online event organized by the General Secretariat of the Government – structure with interinstitutional coordination role in the public policy development process concerning awareness, prevention, control and management of bullying situations.
It was the second meeting of the working group, following the first meeting held in February. The first meeting of the working group focused on various issues and measures that could be taken in the future in the process of preventing and combating bullying, such as: introducing in the school curriculum subjects on bullying, expanding the audio-video monitoring of schools, audio-video surveillance in public spaces near schools and preschools, encouraging children to report cases of violence and to develop the skills to seek support in situations of risk, empowering children, parents, and teachers.
From an organizational point of view, the second Meeting of the working group for awareness, prevention, combating and management of bullying situations was based on the following agenda: presentation of the first meeting minutes; presentation of the Methodological Norms for the application of the provisions of art. 7 para. (1^1), art. 56^1 and of point 6^1 of the Annex to the National Education Law no. 1/2011, on psychological violence - bullying (by the Ministry of Education and Research - MER representative), debating the issues identified during the first meeting that arenot covered by the current legal framework, setting the date of the next meeting, and the list of guests.
During the debates, the importance of developing actions and mechanisms to prevent the phenomenon of bullying was emphasized. Participants agreed that key elements of prevention are: (1) empowering the main actors involved in public policy making and (2) strengthening the capacity of people exercising duties/functions in the school environment such as teachers and school counselors.
In order to achieve an effective policy to prevent and combat bullying, various directions of intervention have been proposed, such as: (1) empowering teachers and school psychologists/counselors to apply the methodological rules adopted in the field of bullying; (2) designing and organizing training courses for teachers, in the field of bullying; (3) extending interinstitutional collaboration in order to formulate a comprehensive approach to the phenomenon of bullying; (4) understanding bullying as a national health issue and strengthening the partnership with the Ministry of Health in the process of formulating anti-bullying policies.
The Romanian Institute for Human Rights supported the need for a special approach in the field of cyberbullying. Considering that, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the framework of school relationships has been reconfigured and the student-student and student-teacher interaction takes place mainly in the virtual environment, it is necessary to pay more attention to the protection of children from any form of violence manifested through electronic applications/platforms. The Institute also drew attention to the importance of formulating a complex approach to the phenomenon of bullying, in which to highlight both means of prevention, means of intervention in the event of effective manifestation of acts of bullying,and means of rehabilitation of social relations within the community, in the period after the acts of bullying were committed.
The future actions proposed during the meeting consist in: organizing the meeting with representatives of the civil society with expertise and experience in the field of combating bullying and cyberbullying (on 14.07.2020); organizing the online meeting of the working group in the extended version (authorities and civil society, on 27.07.2020).
Taking into account the multiple forms of bullying, it was also proposed to expand the activities of the working group in orderto include issues related to mobbing.
Webinar - Human rights to water and sanitation
On July 1, RIHR was invited by the non-governmental organization Human Right 2 Water to participate in a webinar organized in light of the 10 year anniversary of the recognition of the human rights towater and sanitation by theUNGA. Special Rapporteur on human rightsto safe drinking water and sanitation, representatives of CONAGUA (National Water Commission of Mexico), the representative of the National Institute for Human Rights in Kenya, as well as representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank had the opportunity to speak at the webinar.
More than 50% of states have included water and sanitation rights in their national constitutions. However, most of them are still working to ensure full access to clean and sustainable water sources and sanitation, especially for marginalized groups.
There are specific regulations in countries such as Mexico and Kenya, but problems concerning either effective access to water sources or the absorption of fundshave been identified in both countries.
To ensure access to water and sanitation, indicators should be considered to assess progress, while at the same time it is necessary to promote best practices and ensure community participation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the rights to life and health are closely linked to the right to water and sanitation, given that the main measure to prevent the transmission of the virus is hand washing. Therefore, achieving the right to water and sanitation must become a priority, especially for marginalized groups and communities facing poverty.
Human rights in the new normal – people’s views and experiences in EU societies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak
Between June 24-25, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights participated in the online event ”Human rights in the new normal – people’s views and experiences in EU societies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak”, organized by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). On this occasion, FRA launched the report ”What do rights mean for people in the EU”, which presents the experiences and opinions of citizens of the Member States of the European Union on their fundamental rights.
From a structural point of view, the event was organized in two public panels with distinct themes: Them and us: Addressing perceptions that human rights are for other people, but not for me; respectively Fair technologies as a tool to safeguard public health?. The public debates took place on June 24 and June 25, between 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. CET; during the debates current challenges to the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemicwere examined. Further details on the issues that have been the subject of public debate are available by accessing the event link: https://fra.mci-events.eu/.
The Institute also participated in the event’s section aimed at analyzing the results of the report launched by FRA from a national perspective (country breakout session). The session about Romania took place online, on June 25, between 2:15 pm and 3:15 pm, and there were discussions regarding the synthesis, by Romanian participants, of some ideas for streamlining the use, at the level of the results and conclusions of the study prepared by the FRA. Two aspects were highlighted from RIHR’s intervention during the discussions: (1) the importance of human rights education among vulnerable social categories and (2) the need to increase the degree of decision-making transparency to achieve a better awareness of the importance of human rights for Romanian society. We also point out that the ideas mentioned above were inserted in the conclusions of the country session.
February 24-May 31
Between February 24-May 31, based on a collaboration agreement, students from the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), in Bucharest, finished their internship at the Romanian Institute for Human Rights. In this first collaboration project between the two institutions participated students enrolled at undergraduate studies (Faculty of Public Administration, 1st year) and students from the Master’s Program – Management of Public Services (English Department), 2nd year.
The internship took place within the research department, both at RIHR offices (until March 13) and online (March 14-May 31).
Through the activities included in the internship, the Institute aimed to ensure better information and knowledge of the complex issue of human rights. At the same time, the students had the opportunity to learn about the Institute’s actions and its role within a system of national human rights institutions with different mandates in the field of human rights. Education has an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights, human rights education in particular, through which is encouraged understanding, tolerance and the need to assume responsibilities within the society in which we live.
The evaluation of the students from the BA program consisted in conducting research on a general topic, with 3 sub-themes (the role and importance of RIHR’s activity in the field of human rights promotion; analysis of an issue in the thematic area of human rights; presentation of ECHR case law).
Regarding the internship of students enrolled in the master’s program, the evaluation of the activity was done on the basis of a research project (in English), themed The right to good administration, art. 41 of the CDFUE. The projects were developed under the coordination of the Institute’s researchers (by establishing the research topics, indicating the relevant materials and information sources). This topic was also chosen in the context in which the Institute, in fulfilling its mandate, acts for a better knowledge of the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Between May 27-28, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights participated in the Seminar organized according to art. 10 of Resolution 42/15, adopted at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council of September 2019 (A/HRC/RES/42/15), which aimed at identifying the necessary measures to ensure that technologies based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), including those on profiling, decision automation and machine learning, should not affect the right to privacy.
The seminar was held online and the discussions were summarized in 4 sessions approaching the following topics: Session I: Setting the scene - how does artificial intelligence (AI) affect theenjoyment of the right to privacy?; Session II: The right to privacy and the protection of other rights affected by AI; Session III: Preserving the right to privacy: legal and regulatory approaches; Session IV: Preserving the right to privacy: due diligence, data governance and other safeguards.
The Institute was previously requested to submit an analysis on the following issues: the main challenges regarding the impact of AI on the right to privacy and other human rights; identifying AI technologies that may infringe the right to privacy; assessing AI regulations that can provide an adequate level of protection of the right to privacy; highlighting the existing legal limits in this area; establishing guarantees (procedural, institutional, technical) regarding the design, development, implementation and evaluation of AI technology.
April 15-May 6
The second stage of the internship project based on the agreement between the Romanian Institute for Human Rights and the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest – ”European Studies” Programme has ended. The project aimed at assesingthe level of knowledge of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union among young people, as well as their willingness to be informed about this instrument.
A preliminary analysis of the answers received in the quantitative research conducted by applying questionnaires revealed that most interviewees are aware of the existence of the Charter, however the levels of knowledge regarding the provisions of this regional human rights instrument are different. In a majority percentage, respondents state that they do not know at all or have vague knowledge about the content of the Charter, with a small proportion of the target group stating that they are up-to-date with its provisions. It was also noted that about one-third of the interviewed group may cite a right that they associate with the provisions of the Charter.
Regarding the way in which the provisions of the instrument are perceived by the target group, it should be emphasized that the vast majority (over 90%) of young respondents are convinced that the implementation and observance of the Charter rights in EU member states is mandatory and these rights and obligations concern them directly, as European citizens. On this occasion, young people expressed their willingness to deepen their knowledge of the Charter: about 70% said they were interested and very interested in accessing such information.
In addition to knowing the level of information of young people about Charter, another aspect RIHR focused on in the study was the dissemination of information support, aimed at improving the initial level of knowledge and, in particular, understanding the optimal way to deliver this information. In this sense, according to the analysis of centralized responses, it appears that the vast majority of respondents are interested in receiving informational content on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, structured, summarized and in writing (over 80%), and those who prefer to access data on Charter in an interactive way (telephone applications, online instruments, etc.) represent a percentage of approximately 80%. Also, 70% of respondents stated that both means of information are accessible.
Following the interpretation of the results of the study, the final stages of the internship project – which lasted until May 30 – was dedicated to an information campaign for young respondents, both in the format agreed by them and through a training session that also includes pedagogical applications.
Based on the agreement between the Romanian Institute for Human Rights and the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest - European Studies Programme, Department of Cultural Studies, regarding the practical training internship, and considering the situation generated by the Covid-19 crisis, the practice project has been designed in a manner that allows all planned activities to be done through new media applications (Zoom, Google Classroom). The project consists of several stages of work and combines research, information and training.
The first stage of the internship consisted in analyzing the degree of knowledge of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union among the students and it was materialized by applying online questionnaires.
The participating students answered the questionnaires, which were designed to evaluate the level of knowledge of the provisions of the Charter, the capacity to analyze the rights provided by it, as well as the recipients of the provisions of the Charter or its application.
The second stage of the internship involves conducting an information campaign for those respondents interested in deepening their knowledge of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, by using media, as well as by developing practical activities based on didactic strategies.
Means of remote communication allowed a large number of students who attend state or private universities, both from Bucharest and from around the country (Oradea, Cluj, Iasi, Timişoara, Galaţi, Brasov, Ploiesti, etc.) to participate in the internship. The specializations of the participating students cover several fields: Journalism, Letters, Political Science, Medicine, Mathematics, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Agronomy, Engineering, Construction, Police Academies, Military Academies etc.
The research carried out among the student respondents aims to estimate the need for training in the field of the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as their availability to be informed on this subject. At the same time, the purpose was to understand how to design various information materials to serve the students on a wider scale, depending on typologies, specializations, etc.
The Olympics of Altruism, 2020 Edition
The Olympics of Altruism, competition for promoting proactive and prosocial attitudes among youth, organized in partnership with Western University, Faculty of Psychology and Sociology - Social Work Department and Romanian Institute for Human Rights, launches the 2020 Edition.
The competition aims to promote and reward the behaviors that can contribute to the consolidation of an inclusive society and to encourage volunteer work among young generation.
The Olympics targets high school students enrolled in the 12th grade at any school institution in the country accredited by the Ministry of Education and consists of sending online materials (images, videos, essays) that summarize their volunteering activities.
This year, two important modifications of the Regulation have been made, in order to comply with the rules of protection of public health and to allow a wider dissemination of the competition in the current social context:
- All the stages will take place online (there will be no award ceremony)
- The application period was extended by one month.
Thus, the stages of the competition will be as follows:
- Launching the contest: March 20, 2020
- Receiving the applications: March 20, 2020 - May 20, 2020
- Announcing the winners.
For more information, please read the attached Regulation.
In the context of current challenges regarding the rights of women in the Romanian society and on the occasion of International Women's Day, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights, in collaboration with the civil society, organized the debate "Empowerment of women". RIHR representatives, along with Liliana Pagu, president of the Women's Association of Romania - Together and representatives of the Association of Christian Women, analyzed the existing obstacles in the field of promoting and protecting women's rights, proposing strategies to improve the results in this direction. The discussion tackled various issues such as the difficulties faced by the categories of vulnerable women (refugee women, women with disabilities, women belonging to ethnic minorities), the observance of their rights, women's access to justice and health services, as well as ways to combat violence against women and girls.
As part of the event, RIHR presented its booklet "Women's rights - a life without violence is the right of every woman", dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. 12 key areas that demand concrete interventions to ensure equal treatment and equal opportunities for women and men, girls and boys were identified within these reference documents. In many UN member countries, post-Beijing changes have taken place, but the 12 key areas continue to remain topical, because there is still much to be done so that women can enjoy their rights fully. In agreement with these necessary measures, in his message transmitted this year on the occasion of International Women's Day, the UN Secretary-General mentions that „Gender equality is a means of redefining and transforming power that will yield benefits for all. It is time to stop trying to change women, and to start changing the systems and power imbalances that prevent them from achieving their potential.” According to the report on social norms recently published by the UN, “91% of men and 86% of women show at least one clear bias against gender equality in areas such as politics, economic, education, intimate partner violence and women’s reproductive rights. About 50% of men and women interviewed across 75 countries say they think men make better political leaders than women, while more than 40% felt that men made better business executives.” Even more concerning is that the level of discrimination against women has increased in the last decade, despite all efforts.
In addition to the issue of gender equality, another topic addressed during the event referred to one of the 12 key areas, namely violence against women. Now, in 2020, Romania has broad legislation in the field of combating violence and considerable efforts are being made to harmonize it with the European legislative framework. However, there is the paradox of specialized legislation, on one hand, and the aggravation of the phenomenon of domestic violence, on the other.
In conclusion, the participants asserted that 8th of March is more than a symbol for women everywhere.
Useful links: http://irdo.ro/irdo/pdf/Drepturile%20Femeilor.pdf
The most recent working meeting within the project “Mental health - a priority on the public agenda” aimed to address and submit to debate two other topics from the seven priority axes identified in the previous public consultation process: Support and care for patients with dementia and Support Services for informal caregivers/carers.
The working session took place at the Center for Social Dialogue / Memory Center - space opened within the mentioned POCA project - and presented two models of good practice for each of the debated categories. Regarding a successful care model, the representative of the “Floare Roșie” Center for Elderly Sector 6, presented the applied pilot initiatives which, taking into account the positive impact they had on the beneficiaries, could be considered examples to be followed by other centers. In terms of support for caregivers, the representative of EASI (European Association for Social Innovation) reviewed the results of a training course aimed at the pilot project to create an online support group for informal caregivers of people with dementia.
Romanian Institute for Human Rights, along with Ecomondia Association and several preschools from Bucharest („Olga Gudynn International School” Floreasca, „Garmy Kids” Kindergarten and „Prichindel” Kindergarten) carried out an environmental education project in late February. It consisted in the transposition of the information children received through formal education courses, in the form of artistic creations.
Celebrating the fact that 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health, children have created nature-inspired drawings and made greeting cards or pictures out of seeds. Their works were later exhibited at the Senior Center „Clubul Înțelepților” in Sector 2, and given as a present to the elderly from the Center.
The project "Mother Tongue - What is your MoTo?", designed and carried out by the Romanian Institute for Human Rights in partnership with Mark Twain International School, had the closing event of almost three months of activities on Monday, February 24th.
Aimed at celebrating the International Day of Mother Tongue, the project consisted of non-formal, interactive and participative activities. However, the subthemes were varied, aiming, among others, at: enhancing children’s knowledge regarding the importance of using and promoting the mother language, promoting tolerance, understanding and interaction between different cultures, within school communities - and by extension - within society.
The project required the effective involvement of the students, who created graphic informative materials for children their age. Moreover, groups of students from all levels of study (from primary school - to high school) were engaged in various activities, children of 29 nationalities having been included.
During the closing event, hosted by the Bucharest Metropolitan Library – Ion Creangă Library, the groups of children presented their works and shared the experiences and knowledge they have gained from being involved in the project. Furthermore, the students donated to the library multiple books written in less used languages: Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew etc.
Subsequently, the Bucharest Metropolitan Library – Ion Creangă Library decided to organize an exhibition to share with the public some of the handmade books and other works children created within the RIHR project.
Based on the partnership between the Romanian Institute for Human Rights and Titu Maiorescu University - Faculty of Law, between February 10-14 an internship aimed at informing and raising awareness of young beneficiaries (students in the fourth year of the Faculty of Law ) on theoretical and practical aspects specific to the field of human rights was organized.
The internship took place at RIHR’s headquarters, with the involvement of representatives from all departments of the Institute, and students have had the opportunity to understand the powers provided by RIHR’s mandate, as well as its organization and functioning.
The internship had the following objectives: information on the main framework, methods of action, responsibilities, structure and organization of national human rights institutions; deepening the main topics of interest related to the areas of action of the Institute; familiarization with international and regional legal instruments for the protection of human rights; initiation in the working methodology specific to the analysis of the ECHR’s case law, etc.
From a formal perspective, the internship materialized through the elaboration, by each student-beneficiary of the internship, of a research paper focused on the analysis of the most recent and relevant cases from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
At the invitation of ”Simion Stolnicul” Highschool from Comarnic, Romanian Institute for Human Rights organized a thematic debate for the eighth-grade students, the event taking place at the local Culture House.
The activity sought to address the rights of the child, from the perspective of hypothetical discussions and exercises of imagination, as well as the relationship between respect, violation or prohibition of a certain right and the consequences deriving from it.
The structure of the debate meant to organize the students in three teams, each of them having the opportunity to promote a right to choose and, in the same time, to identify the ways in which they can translate into practice the rights of the child in everyday life, both within school environment and outside of it.