Graz Stands Out: Europe’s First Human Rights City Takes the Spotlight at Seoul Conference

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In November 2023, Graz took part in an International Human Rights Conference held in Seoul. The Conference, jointly hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea, and the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, brought together global leaders and experts to deliberate on how to strengthen the role of National Human Rights Institutions and local governments in the protection and promotion of human rights. Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the Paris Principle, the event provided a timely platform to address contemporary human rights challenges.

Markus Möstl, Senior Legal Expert at the International Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights at the Local and Regional Levels under the auspices of UNESCO, was invited to speak about the experiences of Graz as the first Human Rights City in Europe. His presentation delved into Graz’s journey towards becoming a Human Rights City, offering a nuanced understanding of the challenges and successes encountered along the way. He discussed the city’s strategies and policies and provided valuable insights into the concrete strategies and policies employed by Graz to navigate the complex landscape of human rights implementation at the local level. His insights underscored that the success story of Graz can be attributed to a favorable legal framework, an active civil society, well-established human rights structures, concrete policies, and an explicit commitment to human rights.

The participants confirmed during the discussions that Graz stands as an international reference for the effective implementation of human rights, offering inspiration for cities worldwide to embark on similar transformative journeys.