Human Rights and the Rise of Populism in Europe

Europe has led the world in the development of a human rights system that gives individuals the ability to challenge arbitrary, invasive, or discriminatory national laws or practices. Within the European Union, the Agency for Fundamental Rights has been advising the 28 national governments on how to meet their rights obligations since 2007.

But over the last decade, Europe’s commitment to rights has been increasingly challenged: from attacks on the European Court of Human Rights in the United Kingdom, to the rise of “illiberal” democracy in Hungary and Poland, and the emergence of xenophobic nationalism fueled by popular anxieties over migration and economic security.

Join Michael O’Flaherty, director of the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, in a discussion with Felice Gaer of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, on the challenges facing human rights in Europe today, with a particular focus on the response and role of civil society.    


  • Michael O’Flaherty is a human rights lawyer and the director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency. 
  • Felice Gaer directs the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and is a member and vice chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture. 
  • The event will be moderated by James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.