Anti-discrimination standards are contained in universal acts within the UN; EU law and acts within the Council of Europe. The progressive development of international human rights norms has led to the establishment of an independent branch of modern international law – international protection of human rights or international human rights law – international norms for protection against discrimination have become a subdivision of this branch of human rights. international law. Among the most important acts of a universal nature that have a direct bearing on the fight against discrimination are the following international treaties: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UNESCO Convention on Action against Discrimination in Education. The International Labor Organization conventions, in particular the –100 Convention on Equal Pay and the Convention №111 on Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation, are key to enforcing the right to equal treatment in employment.
In all these international treaties, special provisions prohibit discrimination on certain social grounds listed in each specific international treaty, as well as specific forms of discrimination. The most recent international human rights treaty, adopted at UN level, is open for signature in 2006. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCCD). Until 2000 EU anti-discrimination law applied only in the field of employment and social security and covered only discrimination based on sex. In 2000 two directives were adopted: the Employment Equality Directive introduced a ban on discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, religion, age and disability; The Racial Equality Directive introduced a ban on discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin in employment, as well as on access to social security systems, social security and goods and services. This is a significant extension of EU anti-discrimination law, taking into account the fact that in order for individuals to realize their full potential in the labor market, they need to be guaranteed equal access to areas such as health, education and housing. Although sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disabilities and age are grounds for protection only in the field of employment, the EU institutions are currently considering a proposal to extend the protection to these grounds to include access to goods and services (known as the Horizontal Directive).
The prohibition of discrimination is enshrined in Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), which guarantees equal treatment in the exercise of the other rights provided for in the Convention. Protocol №12 (2000) to the ECHR, which has not yet been signed by Bulgaria, extends the scope of the prohibition of discrimination by ensuring equal treatment in the exercise of all rights (including rights guaranteed by national law). According to the explanatory report to the protocol, the document was developed with reasons to strengthen the protection against discrimination, which is considered a key aspect of guaranteeing human rights. The protocol was adopted in particular as a result of discussions on ways to strengthen gender equality and racial equality. The principle of non-discrimination is a guiding principle enshrined in a number of other Council of Europe documents. It should be noted that the text of the European Social Charter of 1996 guarantees the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in the fields of employment and occupation, and protection against discrimination based on sex. Additional protection against discrimination is provided by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents.
The Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime also provides for protection against the promotion of discrimination. The relationship between anti-discrimination standards should not be equated only with the relationship between the sources in which the rights are established. Neither EU law nor the norms of classical international law deprive national law of its purpose of building its own standards of protection of fundamental rights higher than those established in a supranational manner. The process of transposing international standards into national legislation by countries that have committed themselves to the latter is an ongoing process of interaction between legislation and law enforcement. Today, constitutional standards for the protection of human rights are largely positively aligned. The European Network of Equality Bodies takes into account the diversity of equality bodies in the Member States, identifying three types: • Predominantly tribunal-type equality bodies, which spend most of their time and resources in meetings, investigating and deciding on individual cases of discrimination before them, and in some cases also perform a number of tasks identified as primarily encouraging. type of equality bodies. • Predominantly encouraging type of equality bodies, which spend most of their time and resources supporting good practices, raising awareness of rights, developing a knowledge base on equality and providing legal advice and assistance to victims of discrimination. • Combined type of equality bodies – tribunal and promotion, which meet, investigate and decide on cases of discrimination, and participate in a number of activities to raise awareness, promote good practice and conduct research.
Anti-discrimination standards formally protect equality by prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination. Formal equality is rooted in justice. Everyone must have access to certain minimum provisions, after which this is regulated by non-discrimination. This aspiration is limited by the fact that it can coexist with significant levels of inequality. However, EU equal treatment directives allow for specific measures to ensure that “full equality in practice” is achieved. This reflects the pursuit of real equality, rooted in delivering results for disadvantaged groups.