Utrecht – Human Rights Cities

Source: University of Utrecht https://www.uu.nl/masters/en/biofabrication/why-utrecht
Location Utrecht
Name Human Right Cities
Community Level City
Sector Urban regeneration, culture commons
Year of beginning 2010
Object In 2010, the City of Utrecht adopted the universal standard of human rights to guarantee a high quality of life for all inhabitants. According to this aim, Utrecht has been working on promoting a human rights culture in the city, fitting the identity of an open, inclusive and social city. In 2013, a Local Human Rights Coalition was born, consisting of NGOs, local civil society organizations, businesses, politicians, policy officers and scientists. The Coalition’s aim is to create awareness and ownership of local human rights in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens by translating global value(s) into the local practices. Although the initiative does focus on this local bottom-up governance approach, best practices are shared with other cities at the national and international level.

This innovative project involves a partnership, and actually the partnership itself is one of the innovative elements. The partnership has the structure public-community-private. So far, the leading partner, or better, the facilitator, is the City of Utrecht. However, the coalition is increasingly horizontally structured, with the city of Utrecht becoming more and more a member of the coalition like the others. Therefore, the ‘leading’ role can better be seen as ‘facilitating’ role. Since the coalition is unique in the Netherlands, several national organizations (ministries, Dutch association of Municipalities, the Ombudsman, researchers, the national human rights institute)  are supporting the initiative, in addition to the local partners.

In practice, this framework has organized the following initiatives:

Cultural Programme / Vrede van Utrecht

Since the local human rights program (http://www.vredevanutrecht2013.nl/) in particular has a cultural objective, over time, much attention has been given to a cultural program that translates and supports the idea of a local human rights culture. For this purpose, a special program was developed in 2013, focusing on local and international peacemaking inspired by the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht. In many cultural expressions, such as exhibitions, theatre, symposia, widespread attention was given to the local awareness of the importance of human rights and the importance of inspiration for recognizing human dignity.

Week of local democracy and human rights

To mobilize numerous local human rights organizations and bring them into contact with each other, Utrecht have been working on the annual week of local democracy and human rights (an initiative of the Council of Europe) under the title of ‘Human Rights: What about your backyard?’. Local organizations opened their doors to the public these weeks and offered special meetings to inform the general public about their activities. The promotion of the program was centrally facilitated, inter alia through a website and a widespread activity calendar. Because of its innovative approach Utrecht became the title of the European ‘12 Star City’ .

Human Rights Café’s

As mentioned before, one of the objectives is to give a platform to organizations and actors to discover crossovers. Therefore, an important feature of the process is to facilitate the emergence of a group and to create opportunities for the organizations in the city to meet each other, with the aim to extend and strengthen the network and thus to extend the fundament for a local human rights culture. One way this is facilitated by organizing human rights cafés four times a year. These cafés are a great way for organizations to network and explore crossovers. The cafés are also important in enhancing the use of the human rights narrative by organizations. No less than four hundred organizations are actively invited to the cafés, but of course they are accessible to all those interested.

Field Urban
Source Human Rights Cities Utrecht, Netherlands. Source: Interview to Hans Sakker, Head of Department of European and International Affairs, City of Utrecht
Website

Utrecht




Project Details

Added: 8.06.18
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