( OSCE ) - The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, has welcomed the new European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which was inaugurated today in Vienna.
The OSCE/ODIHR co-operated closely with the Agency's predecessor, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, EUMC, and hopes to expand co-operation with the new Agency.
"The creation of the Fundamental Rights Agency will further strengthen the EU's role in effectively protecting human rights," said the ODIHR's director, Ambassador Christian Strohal. "I believe it will help shape a unique pool of expertise that can also influence the democratic development beyond the Union's borders."
The ODIHR and EUMC have co-operated for several years on data management, policy development and best-practice networking. Strohal said his office looked forward to the EU putting a stronger emphasis on human rights through the Agency.
"Co-operation of all human rights institutions advances the protection of these rights. We have not yet come to the point where we can say that human rights are sufficiently protected," he said.
The OSCE - and particularly the ODIHR - stand to benefit if the coherence and consistency of the EU's human rights policy is improved. The Agency, for its part, could benefit from the ODIHR's collection of best practices such as data on tolerance and non-discrimination issues and on human rights legislation.