On the occasion of the completion of the Twinning project „Support to the advancement of human rights and zero tolerance to discrimination“, the project closing event took place on 07 June 2017 in Belgrade, Serbia. Representatives of UN agencies and the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Serbian stakeholders including representatives of line ministries, National Councils of National Minorities, the Judicial Academy and Civil Society Organizations involved in the protection of human and minority rights attended this event.
The audience was addressed by BC Project Leader and Acting Director of the Office for Human and Minority Rights, Suzana Paunović, who emphasized that the project contributed to mutual learning and exchange of knowledge and experiences. Thereafter, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković, highlighted the trainings that were conducted in the course of the project and that proved to be very useful for her staff. The Head of Operations I of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Nicolas Bizel, re-affirmed that anti-discrimination is one of the EU’s core priorities, especially when it comes to including vulnerable groups at all levels of society. The Ambassador of Austria, Johannes Eigner, and the Ambassador of Slovenia, Vladimir Gasparič also praised the project for its results and its contribution to the promotion of human rights and non-discrimination in Serbia. MS Project Leader Hannes Tretter emphasised that the project has managed to open up spaces for fruitful and productive dialogues and provided a platform for mutual learning, reflecting own positions and getting new ideas on how equality, non-discrimination and other human and minority rights can be improved. MS Junior Project Leader Stane Baluh highlighted the strong bonds that were created during the project, and that he was looking forward to future cooperation in the field.
The Twinning project, which had a duration of 22 months, aimed at strengthening and promoting the implementation of the relevant legislative and strategic frameworks on protection against discrimination, protection of minorities and of human rights defenders and adapting them to European standards. This project was implemented by the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights with the support of the Office for National Minorities of the Republic of Slovenia, who worked together in a consortium sharing experiences from both countries. Through exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills, training events, working meetings, on the job trainings, developing legal and institutional analyses and drafting recommendations, European experts cooperated with the Office of Human and Minority Rights, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and other stakeholders in order to achieve the aim of the project.
The Office for Human and Minority Rights managed to strengthen its existing capacity and received support in tasks such as monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan for the realisation of the rights of national minorities, or acting on the UN human rights mechanism recommendations. Throughout the project, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality was able to further increase her visibility at the local level and a special focus was put on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of her recommendations.
As the last activity implemented during the 22 months project duration, the final event provided the perfect opportunity to gather all stakeholders involved and to discuss the results achieved by the project, thus marking the end of a fruitful collaboration between the three countries.