Organized by the national Commission for Prevention and Protection from Discrimination (KSZD) of the Republic of North Macedonia in co-operation with OSCE Mission to Skopje from 5 to 7 September 2022 the Sixth Regional Conference of Equality Bodies from South-East Europe took place in Skopje, North Macedonia.

The event gathered representatives of equality bodies from North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as experts working on human rights and protection against discrimination in discussions focused on the ongoing challenges related to enhancing the role of equality bodies in preventing and protecting from discrimination.

The president of the Republic of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski addressed the reception on the occasion of the beginning of the conference, underscoring the fact that equality bodies perform the important tasks of discrimination prevention and its suppression, thus actively contributing to human rights protection.

Deputy Ombudswoman Dijana Kesonja took part in the panel on the role of equality bodies in court proceedings, providing an overview of our institution’s mandates related to strategic litigation, the criteria for its application as well as the examples of the court proceedings in which our institution utilized some of the available strategic litigation instruments.

The conference opened up the space for a very active exchange of experience and brought to the fore the numerous similarities between the equality bodies from the region and the challenges and issues they are facing in their work. Important conclusions were reached regarding the use and the criteria for selection of the strategic cases to participate in with the aim of achieving greater normative clarity and the proper implementation of the international standards. The participants underscored the importance of the appropriate application of the principle of the transfer of the burden of proof in discrimination court proceedings and other types of discrimination proceedings.

Equality bodies face numerous challenges in relation to resources, inter-institutional co-operation, as well as loopholes in legislation.  Thus, they need to intensify their co-operation via various communication channels with the relevant stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, national human rights institutions and the private sector.