Human rights and vulnerable groups

Certain groups of the population are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations for economic, social, political or historical reasons. Therefore, international law ensures that specific protection is given to them, in order to better enshrine their fundamental equality with the rest of the population. 

What are my rights?

Protecting human rights requires both enshrining rights that are applicable to all, but also being mindful of the fact that in reality some people will find it harder to have these rights respected than others: children, people with disabilities, women.... They are part of vulnerable groups who should have enhanced protection of their rights. 

Various international treaties and conventions provide this protection. Determining whether a group can be defined as particularly vulnerable depends on several factors: a particular social and political environment, the shared experiences of the group, and the harm done to them as a result of belonging to that group.

For example, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) affirms, among other things, the right of women to equality in education, employment and economic and social activities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities enshrines a number of specific rights for people with disabilities - the right to live in an open environment rather than in closed institutions, the right to inclusive education, the right to reasonable accommodation, etc. Children's rights are protected through the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives children, among other things, the right to participation and protection from violence. responsibilities, etc. 

What does FIRM/IFDH do?

FIRM/ IFDH has a residual mandate, which means it is competent on all subjects for which no other independent federal human rights body has a mandate. Several vulnerable groups do not have a federal institution dedicated to them: the elderly, children, victims of human rights violations, journalists, etc. FIRM/IFDH is therefore working on specific recommendations to improve the protection of the human rights of these vulnerable groups. 

What do other institutions do?

Several institutions in Belgium are designated to protect the rights of vulnerable groups. These include: 

  • Unia, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities: protection of people with disabilities and victims of racial discrimination. 
  • The Institute for the Equality of Women and Men: CEDAW.
  • Myria: protection of the rights of migrants and the fight against human trafficking. 
  • The Délégué général des droits de l'enfant and the Kinderrechtencommissariaat: respect of children's rights for the competences of the Communities and Regions (except for the German-speaking Community and the Brussels Region). 
  • Combat Poverty, Insecurity and Social Exclusion Service : for people experiencing poverty and precariousness 
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