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Celebrating 25 years of the Croatian Ombudsman institution

May 12th 2017

The Ombudsman institution was introduced in the Croatian legal system at the very beginning of the country’s independence, by the 1990 Constitution. However, further requirements for the beginning of its work were met two years later, by entering into force of the Ombudsman’s Act.

Conference: Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance the democratic space?

Almost 50 representatives of equality bodies, human rights institutions and organisations from across Europe, as well as numerous guests from Croatia gathered on the 11th and 12th of May in Zagreb at this International Conference, organised on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Ombudsman’s Act, by the Ombudswoman Lora Vidović.

The Conference titled "Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance the democratic space? “ aimed to give participants the opportunity to discuss the most current issues in this field – counter-terrorism, freedom of expression and living together, as well as the role of human rights institutions and equality bodies in preserving democracy and the rule of law.

View from above: Conference on Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance the democratic space?
View from above: Conference on Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance the democratic space?

The conference speakers included the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, director of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights Michael O’Flaherty, former OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, Chair of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and Director of the German Institute for Human Rights Beate Rudolf, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman of Ireland Peter Tyndall, Chair of the European Equality Bodies Network and Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Commission for Equality Evelyn Collins, as well as the UNDP and OHCHR representatives and many others.

Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins speaking at Conference
Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins speaking at Conference

The session on ’The Role of Independent Institutions in Enhancing Democratic Space’ was chaired by Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Deputy Ombudswoman of Croatia and Equinet Board Member. Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins closed the session by talking about the role of equality bodies, challenges that equality bodies are facing and suggestions about how to strengthen the role of equality bodies. She underlined the usefulness of developing standards for equality bodies to try and tackle some of the challenges mentioned.

The opening ceremony of the Conference, to which the highest Croatian public officials were invited, was held in the Croatian parliament. Watch the first day of the conference here.

Zagreb Declaration

One of the outcomes of the Conference is the Zagreb Declaration - Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance democratic space?, to which all participating Ombudsman, national human rights institutions as well as equality bodies are signatories, with the support of networks which the Ombudsman participates in, notably ENNHRI, Equinet and IOI. Partners from CoE, UNDP, UNHCHR and OSCE ODIHR for their support in drafting the Declaration.

The aim of this Declaration is to reaffirm their commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights and equality, the fight against all forms of discrimination, and the support of democratic space, as well as their commitment to cooperation with key stakeholders and between institutions and networks.

Conference Participants
Conference Participants

Further Information

For further details, see the website of the Ombusman
Photos available here.
For more information about the Ombudsman, have a look at their profile on the European Directory of Equality Bodies.