Balance between centralisation and fragmentation considered in the background paper on human rights and equality institutions in Europe


The way in which human rights institutions, equality and specialised bodies are set up at the national level in European countries varies. In some countries, the model chosen is centralised while in others there is fragmentation with several different actors operating parallel. Since 1990’s, international and European standards relating to human rights, equality and specialised bodies have been developed.

What are these standards? How do they relate to the frameworks developed at national level? What are the strengths and weaknesses of cen­tralised and fragmented systems? What is their impact?

These are some of the questions considered in the background paper ‘Human rights and equality institutions in Europe: Balance between centralisation and fragmentation?´ commissioned by the Finnish Human Rights Centre in 2021. This background paper complements a study on the Finnish human rights structures that was undertaken by the Human Rights Centre and published in June 2022. The paper is topical, as the European Commission recently published two directive proposals on Equality Bodies. The proposals aim to create legally binding minimum standards for the independence, resources and powers of the Bodies and to harmonise protection against discrimination across EU. More information on the proposals here.

The Human Rights Centre’s background paper was drafted by Lora Vidović in close cooperation with the Human Rights Centre. Vidović has been an Ombudswoman and leader of an NHRI, and the Chair of ENNHRI (European Network of NHRIs).