Equinet is an international NGO, which seeks to strengthen its efforts to eliminate discrimination, promote equality and especially to strengthen the position and skills of authorities for the equality principle. This is achieved by versatile mutual cooperation of 46 members from 34 European countries as well as cooperation with various international actors, especially the European Commission, which offers significant support to its operation, but also the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Council of Europe authorities (Commissioner for Human Rights, ECRI, etc.) and the United Nations.
Equinet represents an important junction for the work of bodies for the equality principle on an international level. Equinet tries to actively contribute to the development of legal practice and standards of protection against discrimination.
Authorities for the equality principle are independent organisations which help victims of discrimination, monitor and report on the issue of discrimination and advocate equality. Their statutory duties are promoting equality and fight against discrimination in connection with one or more circumstances covered by EU law – gender, race, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief and disability.
Equinet also states that EU legislation on equal treatment requires that the Member States establish authorities for the equality principle. Most Member States have already taken measures associated with Directive 2000/43/EC (about implementing the principle of equal treatment of persons irrespective of race or ethnicity) and directives on gender equality (2010/41 about self-employed, 2006/54 recast directive and 2004/113 about goods and services), either by supplementing or transforming already existing institutions or by founding new, which will perform tasks defined with new legislation. European anti-discriminatory law requires the establishment of bodies in the fields of race, ethnic origin and gender. Despite this fact, several countries have special bodies intended to address discrimination also due to other circumstances.
The Advocate of the Principle of Equality also took over the membership in Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies. Cooperation between Member States is targeted particularly in strengthening the ability to work effectively and develop their potential (education, transfer of knowledge and experience and good practices, debate about effective use of the EU acquis, effective policies, strategies of development, communication approaches, etc.), but also to support organisations in ensuring their autonomy and independence.