Forum Menschenrechte (FMR) is a network of 53 (2019) german non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are committed to better and more comprehensive protection of human rights – worldwide, in specific regions of the world, within countries and also within the Federal Republic of Germany. The FMR was established in 1994 following the World Conference on Human Rights Conference in Vienna.
- to monitor critically the human rights policy of the German Government and the German Bundestag at both the national and international level;
- to implement joint projects with the aim of improving the protection of human rights worldwide;
- to create an awareness about human rights issues amongst the German public at large, to draw attention, when required, to human rights violations in Germany and to work for their resolution;
- to guarantee an exchange of all relevant informations on human rights issues between the member organizations;
- to support local, regional and national NGOs in the international aspects of their work and to promote an international network of NGOs in general.
How we work:
Every member organisation is expected to participate in at least one of our working groups. They are responsible for preparing joint statements, policy papers, information material etc. They also initiate campaigns, political meetings with polticians, public events, forums of experts etc.
The FMR is closely cooperating with NGOs at both the european and the international level.
All those activities are coordinated by a board (coordination team) of usually eight persons representing the entire spectrum of member organizations elected every two years.
The cooperation within the FMR is organized by the office located in „Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte“ in Berlin.
Four exemplary working-groups:
The world conference on Human Rights in Vienna 1993 stated in its closing statement the fight against racism as a „priority Human Rights task“. Human Rights bodies of the United Nations and the Council of Europe complain repeatedly the absence of a comprehensive strategy against racism in Germany. Government agencies and the public generally equate racism with right-wing extremism. There is an avoidance attitude to name racism as such. The overall social dimension and institutional racism are underestimated. The series of racist murder of nine men of turkish and greek descent has shown, that racist stereotypes also persist in police and justice.
The working group Anti-Racism wants to sensitize people regarding racist discrimination in Germany and develop a contemporary term of racism, by taking up international impulses. Its main focus is monitoring of the implementation of national instruments and international obligations of Germany to combat racism.
The working-groups main aims are
- to protect the Human Rights Defenders against defamation, criminalization and prosecution
- to make sure that international and multilateral german policies align with Human Rights
- to implement binding Human Rights standards fort the work of international institutions like the World Bank, WTO or FAO
One of the main focuses of the working-group is respect, protection and guarantee of all human rights, especially long neglected social rights as the right to decent working conditions, social safety, right to food, adequate housing, water and sanitary services, health and education.
The working-group aims to empower people in developing countries in particular to request their social human rights and to actively participate in shaping socio-political decision-making processes.
The working-group monitors to what extent Germany’s policies are in line with international treaties and Human Rights principles and duties enshrined therein.
Finally, the working-group participates actively in the national and international discussions about business and human rights and fights for effective i.e. bindingrules (e.g. National Action Plans) and laws to ensure accountability of (transnational) companies in case of human rights violations in their supply chain.
Children’s rights as human rights are fixed under international law in the Convention on the Rights of the child, adopted by the United Nations in 1989. It was ratified by 193 countries. More than a hundred countries have also ratified the two optional protocols on the situation of the children in armed conflicts, child trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography. What made the Convention unique at the time is, that it comprises personal, political, economic, cultural and social rights, and that children who have not yet reached the age of 18 are explicitly defined as carriers of those rights. Despite the record-breaking approval by the states and their commitment to realize the convention, is far from being implemented. The working group focuses on the implementation of the Convention in and by Germany.
Foreign policy/ United Nations Human Rights Council
The United Nations Human Rights Council is the most important international body for the protection and promotion of Human Rights. It met for the first time in 2006 and replaced the former Human Rights Commission of the UN. The Council, which is composed by 47 UN member states meets at least three times a year in Geneva and deals with Human Rights violations in member states of the UN, and the development of Human Rights standards and their implementation. A crucial part of the Councils work is the regular evaluation of the human rights situation in the member states, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The working-group plans and coordinates all activities related to the Human Rights Council. In the forefield of the Council’s meetings, the FMR regularly helds talks with the Federal Foreign Minister, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, as well as other members of the German delegation, in which the demands of the FMR and its member organisations on various country and topic priorities are brought forward.
Since 1998, the FMR has been sending an observer to the Human Rights Commission, and since 2006 to the meetings of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He or she is available to NGOs, government delegations, parliamentarians and journalists as contact persons for the FMR and prepares a report following the council meetings. This report is crucial for the follow up by the FMR, which includes a permanent monitoring of the Human Rights Policies of the German Federal Government and the European Union.
Other working-groups (2019):
-> Rights of women and LGBTI
-> Domestic (asylum and migration) policy
-> Peace and Human Rights