Greek academic and activist Dimitris Christopoulos elected FIDH President
Dimitris Christopoulos has been elected President of FIDH. He succeeds Iranian lawyer Karim Lahidji who headed the international human rights NGO for the last three years. The vote was held during the 39th FIDH Congress in Johannesburg where its 178 member organisations from 120 countries were gathered to elect the new International Board and determine the main orientations for the next three years.
"Fight against terrorism, economic interests and the rise of extremism have precipitated the respect of human rights in depths that we thought had been definitively consigned to the past. Rarely, rights of citizens have been so flouted. It is urgent, and more than ever necessary, that civil societies and activists from the entire world be heard again. Let’s resist and act,"stated Dimitris Christopoulos, right after being elected.
In his first speech as FIDH President, he highlighted:
"The issue at stake is the core of politics: the struggle against inequality, the struggle for altering the power structure in favour of the weak, in favour of the rule of law, in favour of our own vision for a just world. These are not only legitimate but urgent commitments of our movement."
The fight against impunity will be at the centre of Dimitris Christopoulos’ mandate, as will be the mobilization for the respect of human rights in the framework of the economic globalization. The new FIDH President has been denouncing for several years the negative impacts of austerity policies on human rights. This problematic was the subject of a report on the situation in Greece: Downgrading rights: the cost of austerity in Greece.
As FIDH President, Dimitris Christopoulos will work towards the implementation of the priorities decided by FIDH’s member organisations. He will be mainly based at FIDH’s headquarters in Paris for the first year of his mandate at least.
During its 39th Congress, new organisations from 15 countries, such as Russia, South-Korea, India, Norway, were approved to join FIDH increasing its membership to 184. The Congress adopted 26 resolutions including three special motions concerning the situation in Syria, Zimbabwe and a call for the protection of human rights defenders worldwide.
The newly elected International Board is composed of 22 activists from 21 countries, representing all together five continents. FIDH is glad to welcome for the first time in its board 11 new human rights defenders.
The Congress was attended by Ales Bialiatski, head of the HRC "Viasna", and lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Ales Bialiatski’s powers as FIDH Vice-President expired after his third consecutive term. The Belarusian human rights defender has been succeeded by Artak Kirakosyan, head of the Civil Society Institute in Armenia, Tolekan Ismailova, head of the organization Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan. A total of 15 Vice-Presidents for the various regions have been elected at the Forum.
FIDH’s new International Bureau was elected by 178 members, including a representative of Viasna, Valiantsin Stefanovich. Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski, who was FIDH Vice-President for Eastern Europe and Central Asia from 2007 to August 2016, worked on the counting commission.