Public Release: 

How to protect human rights: 40 policy recommendations for the EU

KU Leuven


IMAGE: This is the logo for the FRAME project. view more 


Fight people smuggling by offering more options for legal migration to the EU. Stop sending migrants back to regions where their human rights are at stake. These are just a few of the recommendations presented by FRAME, a large-scale international research project on the EU and human rights. The project is coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at KU Leuven (University of Leuven, Belgium). The recommendations pertain to migration, but also to the impact of austerity measures on social rights and many other themes.

What is the impact of EU policies on human rights? And how can EU institutions promote human rights worldwide? These were the key questions for the researchers involved in FRAME - 'Fostering Human Rights Among European Policies' -- the largest project on human rights ever funded by the EU's Programmes for Research. The four-year FRAME project was coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance and involved more than 100 researchers from 19 leading universities.

"Our recommendations come at a time of turmoil for human rights worldwide," says project coordinator Jan Wouters from the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies. "Take migration, for instance. Thousands of refugees, including children, risk their lives trying to enter the EU as they flee war-torn regions. Our research shows that EU policies are increasingly coercive and punitive. The principle of non-refoulement -- not sending people back to countries where their human rights are at risk -- is very much at stake, and many detention centres are poorly maintained. Last but not least, the Dublin system, which makes the member state of entry responsible for the processing of asylum requests, puts too much pressure on states located on the external borders of the EU. These countries can no longer cope with the flow of migrants in a way that respects human rights."

So how can the EU ensure the human rights of migrants? "Broaden access to legal avenues for migration such as humanitarian visas or family reunification. These avenues already exist but they are the object of many restrictions. However, they are the most effective way to fight smuggling and reduce incentives to use dangerous migration routes. We also recommend replacing the Dublin system with a more centralized system based on solidarity among member states. But most of all, the EU needs to stop sending migrants back to regions where their human rights are likely to be violated."


Closing conference

FRAME will present its policy recommendations on migration and other themes -- including the impact of austerity measures on EU citizens' social rights -- at a closing conference in Brussels on 26 April 2017. Speakers will include Herman Van Rompuy (Former President of the European Council), Stavros Lambrinidis (EU Special Representative on Human Rights), Olivier De Schutter (Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food), and Manfred Nowak (Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture). More information is available here: The strategic document with policy recommendations is embargoed until 26 April 2017.

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