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The right frame for EU human rights policies

The FP7-funded FRAME project is exploring European human rights policies from a comprehensive, multi-actor and global perspective.

As a supranational organisation with a great variety of policy tools and powers at its disposal, the EU is uniquely placed to protect and promote human rights. With the Lisbon Treaty, the EU confirmed respect and promotion of human rights as core values and objectives for all actions and policies. However, human rights is a complex and evolving field, and the EU faces many challenges in this area. The fragmentation of human rights-related competences and contestation over the universality of human rights norms by third countries are among the problems. The FP7-funded FRAME (Fostering Human Rights Among European (External and Internal) Policies) project is aiming to address these and other issues by exploring European human rights policies from a comprehensive, multi-actor and global perspective. Launched in the summer of 2013, this interdisciplinary and collaborative project is one of the first of its kind. The international team involved in FRAME comprises 19 academic partners and approximately 100 researchers from a range of EU countries as well as China, Egypt, India, Peru, South Africa, and the United States. The project team is assessing the EU’s response to human-rights challenges and aims to equip European policy-makers with relevant instruments and tools. In order to do this, team members are first developing a sound knowledge of the factors, actors, concepts and instruments underlying the protection and promotion of human rights at all levels; appraising the EU’s contribution to human rights; and exploring the effectiveness of human rights promotion across EU institutions, competences and policies. FRAME publications thus far include a report on the mapping study on relevant actors in human rights protection and a paper on integrating human rights and in EU development policy. FRAME research efforts will feed into developing indicators for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of human rights protection in policies and actions. The team will also develop a policy toolbox which integrates existing, adapted and new policy tools to enhance human rights protection within the EU and in third countries. Additionally, FRAME will formulate policy proposals on how to improve the EU record in human rights policymaking, which will specifically address the development of legal, political and operational guidance. The team has been engaging with human rights stakeholders at a range of levels. In late September, representatives of the FRAME team met with EU officials to discuss the EU human rights engagement in the UN. The findings of this workshop will be used in a comprehensive report which will be published in November. FRAME researchers also spoke recently at panels at the AHRI Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen on issues related to the EU and human rights. FRAME researchers are approximately a year and a half into the four-year project which is coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies in Belgium. For further information, please visit: