29 Ombuds, National Human Rights Institutions and Equality Bodies from wider Europe adopted the Zagreb Declaration on May 12 2017, at the end of the Conference on the occasion of 25 years of the Ombudsman of Croatia institution.

The event “Reclaiming Human Rights In Europe: How To Enhance The Democratic Space” was held in Zagreb on 11 and 12 May 2017, as an opportunity for a wide discussion on some of the most current topics in Europe today - counter-terrorism, freedom of speech and living together.

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The second day of the high level conference - Reclaiming Human Rights in Europe: How to Enhance Democratic Space? - marking the 25th anniversary of the Croatian ombudsman, started with the discussion on the interrelation of respect for human rights and counter terrorism measures.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, ODIHR Head of Human Rights Department Omer Fisher, Regional Human Rights and Rule of Law Advisor at UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub Isabelle Tschan, representative of the Defender of Rights from France Claudine Jacob, Senior Expert Adviser of the Croatian Council for National Security Office Sara Lustig were the panellists, as well as the Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar via a video message.

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With the formal opening of the International Conference „Reclaiming human rights in Europe: How to enhance democratic space?“ 25 years of the Ombudsman's Act was commemorated on the 11th May in the Croatian parliament.

In her welcoming address the Ombudswoman Lora Vidović conducted the guests through the institutional development in the past 25 years and its contribution to strengthening of the democracy in Croatia. „What has not been changed during these years, and I firmly believe that it should remain so, is the basis of the institution's work – these are arguments not sanctions, dialogue not orders, advocacy not legally binding decisions. The ombudsman's authority is one of the characteristics of societies with highly developed democracy and strong rule of law. Having that in mind, I am pleased to conclude that our recommendations and words are more and more loudly and clearly heard and that they are more frequently and promptly answered. Of course, with occasional exceptions which will always be present and which require further efforts in obtaining a constructive dialogue“, stated the Ombudswoman, highlighting the role of cooperation in the institution's performance.

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