Defending human rights of most vulnerable crucial to meeting security challenges, say speakers at OSCE conference in Warsaw

2014 2014-09-22T16:35:00+0300 2014-09-22T16:36:17+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

WARSAW, 22 September 2014 – OSCE participating States have to focus on the most vulnerable in particular if their efforts to defend human rights are to effectively promote security, speakers said at the opening of the OSCE Human Dimension Meeting in Warsaw today.

“The solution to security challenges lies not in postponing action on human rights, but in doubling down on rights protection,” said Elisa Massimino, President and Chief Executive of Human Rights First, in her keynote speech. “The demonization or neglect of minorities, the failure to ensure the safety and political participation of women, the crackdown on civil society that works to protect the rights of the vulnerable – these factors are both symptoms of and lead to broader insecurity.”

Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Swiss Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, stressed the importance of civil society as a partner in this area.

“This meeting illustrates the crucial role of civil society to support participating States in the full protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” Greminger said. “The Swiss OSCE Chairmanship systematically involves civil society at all levels in Switzerland, as well as in the whole OSCE region.”

More than 1,200 government representatives, human rights activists and experts are gathering in Warsaw for the two-week conference, during which they will review the progress made by governments in implementing their commitments in the fields of human rights and democracy.

Michael Georg Link, addressing his first Human Dimension Implementation Meeting as Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), emphasized the responsibility of those in power to actively defend and promote human rights.

“The concept of human rights is – and must be – universally applicable. The real struggle is not between east and west, between north and south, but between those who abuse their power and those who exercise restraint in order to protect individuals’ human rights”, Link said.

In additional to regular working sessions, more than 80 side events will be held, focusing on specific human rights concerns and country situations. Topics for special sessions at the meeting will be violence against women and children, the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and the rights of migrants.