Achieving Equality – Critical Reflections of the Role of Equality Bodies
Independent equality bodies are widely regarded as having a crucial role to play in the effective implementation of substantive non-discrimination and human rights law. Accordingly, EU Member States are required to establish independent equality bodies dealing with race and gender and there are proposals to extend this obligation to age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief.
At the global level the United Nations has, for some time, actively encouraged the establishment of independent national bodies to advance the implementation of human rights including the right to be free from discrimination.
Most recently, in a new departure for international human rights law, Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires States Parties to “maintain, strengthen, designate or establish … a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, … to promote, protect and monitor implementation”.
Following this, the last decade has witnessed the establishment, expansion or restructuring of equality bodies or human rights institutions. There is, however, a wide variation in their nature, remit and practice. The global economic downturn has intensified concerns to ensure value for money in this, as well as other, areas of public spending.
These factors combine to make the present a perfect time to reflect on the role and effectiveness of equality bodies and wider national human rights institutions in achieving equality in practice. This conference aims to provide a space for such reflection and to bring together experts from the equality body and national human rights institution sector, the NGO sector and academia.