European and International Affairs Department
The Ararteko's role is not only to safeguard citizens' rights should the public administration fail to act correctly. It also evaluates the public policies that usually lie behind those incorrect measures. The Ararteko is also tasked with knowing and raising awareness about human rights and their underpinning values. It fosters a culture of respecting them, thus promoting their full enjoyment by everyone, and their respect and defence by public authorities. It is essential to look outwards in order to put human rights into perspective and to make progress in defending them in the Basque Country. That involves closely monitoring the latest jurisprudential and legal developments, along with the best practices of international and national authorities that share the Ararteko's fundamental task of defending and promoting human rights.
In this regard and in order to integrate the international and European dimension in the Ararteko's work, the International and European Affairs Office was established in 2018. This Office has three fundamental functions:
- To manage the Ararteko's participation in international ombudsman networks. The Ararteko is currently a member of the International Ombudsman Institute, the European Network of Ombudsmen, the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children and the International Association of Language Commissioners. Thanks to its involvement in these organisations, the Ararteko has had the opportunity to learn about the work of other ombuds institutions and learn from them. The Ararteko has also been able to share its own experience, which will be useful for the work of other ombudsmen.
- To incorporate international and European human rights law into the institution's routine work, so that the Ararteko's decisions, general recommendations and reports appropriately use and draw upon international human rights sources, to thus better protect the rights of the citizens.
- To make known and showcase the latest developments regarding human rights internationally, and disseminate their knowledge among the citizens of the Basque Country and its public institutions.
Your most important fundamental rights are also protected by treaties and by international institutions. They are what we call “human rights”. Respecting people’s most essential goods and values thus become a matter of interest for the whole international community, and not just for each country or for each government of the world within its frontiers. The basic rights of every person are the same and mechanisms are in place to check that they are respected everywhere.
Universal human rights
Human rights protect the rights of every person. Non-discrimination is one of its basic principles. Everybody is equally entitled to human rights regardless of their sex, age, skin colour, ethnicity, language, disability, illness, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual characteristics, religion or ideology, property or socio-economic position.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the first human rights treaties were based on this principle of non-discrimination. Their authors believed that that principle would be sufficient to protect every person equally. However, time has shown that certain groups of people find it harder to access and to exercise their rights. Therefore, other treaties were signed that were no longer universal, as they were aimed at people with certain characteristics or in certain conditions, and which seek to provide those persons with additional protection and facilitate their access to universal rights. You can find out more about your human rights and those treaties in the attached files. Go to “Guaranteeing Your Human Rights” to learn about how the protection of those rights is guaranteed in practice.
The Spanish State, in the same way as the other EU Member States, has signed a series of international treaties recognising and enshrining human rights, developing their content and establishing guarantees to defend them and ensure that they are effectively enforced. Undertaking to comply with an international human rights treaty does not mean that the rights are automatically respected or enforced by their very nature. All of a country’s public authorities, including ours, have to act in accordance with human rights. They are primarily and mainly responsible for human rights being respected and enforced. They must not prevent or hinder the free exercising of human rights, they must protect people who want to exercise their rights when others seek to prevent them doing so, and they must take the necessary measures so that the realisation and effective exercising of those rights are possible. All public authorities – the legislative and executive branches and the judiciary; local, provincial, regional and state authorities – are bound by those rights.
However, the internationalisation of human rights means that compliance with the rights is not left up to each country, by merely trusting that the country will protect the rights within its borders by acting in good will. On the contrary, institutions and mechanisms are established that allow the international community to know whether or not each country is complying with its human rights commitments and which allow people to report any violations to international authorities. Further information about the institutions and mechanisms is available from the following documents: