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Lithuania draws attention to the importance of ensuring economic and social rights at the Baltic-Nordic ombudsman conference in Vilnius

1 October 2019

On 26 September 2019, a Baltic-Nordic ombudsman conference "Ensuring social and economic rights is a safeguard of a dignified life" took place at the National Library of Lithuania. At the opening of the conference, the Head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office greeted the ombudsmen from the Baltic and Nordic countries, the Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights of Lithuanian Parliament and welcomed the fact that conference discussions on protection and improvement of human rights and freedoms can be held in the Baltic-Nordic framework.

“This Ombudsmen conference is also special because it is for the first time attended by the Baltic-Nordic Ambassadors residing in Lithuania, who will have a great opportunity not only to get to know the ombudsmen of the neighbouring countries but also to get a closer look at the activities and challenges the ombudsmen face when dealing with economic and social rights in the Baltic-Nordic region,” said Augustinas Normantas, Head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office.

The all-day conference, organised by the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office, allowed speakers and panellists from Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway to create a platform not only for sharing and exchanging experiences but also for assessing the progress of ensuring social and economic rights in neighbouring countries. The conference revealed that despite differences between countries they face similar problems; therefore, sustainable cooperation of neighbouring countries can help to find common solutions.

After the welcoming speech, the Head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office rushed to recognise that the realisation of economic and social rights is often still a major challenge for the state, whose consequences particularly affect the most socially vulnerable members of society. He noted that the state must take particular care to adopt and implement the obligation to allocate resources in such a way as to protect the most sensitive and vulnerable members of society, i.e. the elderly, persons with disabilities, and provide them with a guarantee of a dignified life - proper implementation of social and economic rights.

“The Ombudsman is first perceived as a human rights defender, an intermediary between an individual and the authorities, helping to ensure that the authorities do not violate individual rights and freedoms. Therefore, I believe that sharing of best practices in dealing with complaints and meeting the needs of the most sensitive and vulnerable members of society will help to promote good public administration, laying the foundation for proper implementation of social and economic rights,” emphasised the Head of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office.

The conference consisted of three sessions, the topics of which addressed the most sensitive areas of the need for implementation of social and economic rights and allowed for constructive discussions between national ombudsmen. The first session discussed aspects of legal regulation of economic and social rights. The second session, which generated big discussions and different opinions at the conference, was dedicated to ensuring the rights of people with disabilities. Finally, the third session allowed participants to share real-life practices and recommendations for implementing quality social services.

 

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