Authoritarian states are making alarming efforts at undermining respected international institutions meant to serve vital human rights purposes. At the UN Human Rights Council they promote initiatives aimed at undermining human rights instead of strengthening them. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and INTERPOL are also faced with similar serious challenges to uphold their mandates. On the fringes of the Oslo Freedom Forum, Norwegian Helsinki Committee has invited international experts on these issues rarely discussed in public. The Event will describe these challenges and discuss ways to safeguard the institutions. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Aljokhina of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot now representing Zona Prava (“Law Zone”), two of the three band members to be convicted to two years in prison by a Moscow court in 2012, will come to the seminar.
Please sign up by writing an e-mail to [email protected] Limited number of seats.
07:45 Breakfast, tea, coffee
08:00 Welcome, by Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
08:05 “My struggle to get off the Interpol arrest order list”, Bill Browder, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the investment fund
Hermitage Capital Management, Head of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Campaign
08:10 A statement by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Aljokhina of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot/Zona Prava (“Law Zone”).
08:20 “The case of Council of Europe and other European institutions”, Gerald Knaus, Chairman, European Stability Initiative (ESI)
08:35 “The case of INTERPOL”, Jago Russell, Chief Executive, Fair Trials International
08:50 “Traditional values”as a way of undermining respect for human rights: The case of the UN Human Rights Council, Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
09:00 Panel discussionon: Ways to safeguard the institutions. In addition to the speakers, we will hear comments from Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow
at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy.
Please sign up by writing an e-mail to [email protected] Limited number of seats. The venue is just a few steps away from the venue of the Oslo Freedom Forum.
The seminar will be streamed live via our website www.nhc.no
Authoritarian states are making alarming efforts at undermining respected international institutions meant to serve vital human rights purposes. At the UN Human Rights Council they promote initiatives aimed at undermining human rights instead of strengthening them. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and INTERPOL are also faced with similar serious challenges to uphold their mandates.
The Council of Europe, a reputable institution in Europe that since 1949 has promoted and protected democracy and human rights, is under attack of something graphically called Caviar Diplomacy. Diplomacy is a big part of what happens in Council of Europe political bodies, but what Azerbaijan has initiated is a systematic policy of getting influence by providing gifts and bribes to members of PACE, as reported by European Stability Initiative. Among the results is an overly positive approach by some PACE members to fraudulent Azerbaijan elections and other abusive policies.
In a recent report by the organization Fair Trials International (“Strengthening respect for human rights; strengthening INTERPOL”), documentation is presented on how countries across the world are abusing INTERPOL to persecute refugees, journalists and peaceful political activists. Despite INTERPOL’s commitment to neutrality and human rights, INTERPOL’s review mechanisms are not vigorous enough to prevent this abuse, with severe implications for the people concerned: damage to reputation, loss of work, inability to travel and even arrest and extradition.
The UN Human Rights Council adopted on 27 September 2012 a third controversial resolution, presented by the Russian Federation, on traditional values and human rights. The concern, raised by special procedures mandate holders, treaty bodies, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights as well as by human rights friendly states and civil society organizations, is that these resolutions represent efforts at elevating traditional values above universal human rights standards. Such terms are often used to justify marginalization of minority groups and for maintaining gender-based inequalities, discrimination and violence. On the ground, such concerns have proven highly relevant by recent attacks on the rights of sexual minorities in a range of countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.
The Side Event will describe these challenges and discuss ways to safeguard the institutions
About the contributors:
Gerald Knaus is ESI’s founding chairman. He studied in Oxford, Brussels and Bologna, taught economics at the State University of Chernivtsi in Ukraine and spent five years working for NGOs and international organisations in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2001 to 2004, he was the director of the Lessons Learned Unit of the EU Pillar of the UN Mission in Kosovo. In 2011, he co-authored, alongside Rory Stewart, the book “Can Intervention Work?” He co-authored more than 60 ESI reports, including “Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe” (2012), “Disgraced – Azerbaijan and the end of election monitoring as we know it” (2013), “Islamic Calvinists” (2005, on Turkey) and “The European Raj” (2003, on Bosnia). He also wrote scripts for 12 award-winning TV documentaries on South East Europe (www.returntoeurope.eu, 2008-2012). He is a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Associate Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where he was lecturing on state building and intervention 2009/2010. He is based in Istanbul and Paris and writes the Rumeli Observer blog www.rumeliobserver.eu. The European Stability Initiative (ESI) is an independent non-profit research and policy institute based in Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul and Vienna. Its mission is to undertake original research and foster debates how to promote democratic stability and prosperity in Southeast Europe. ESI was founded in June 1999 in Sarajevo by a multi-national group of analysts with extensive experience in the regions in which they worked.
Jago Russel has been the Chief Executive of Fair Trials International since September 2008. Before joining Fair Trials, he worked as a policy specialist at the human rights charity (Liberty) and worked as a Legal Specialist in the UK Parliament, assisting the Human Rights, Home Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Select Committees. Jago is a qualified solicitor and has published and lectured widely on a range of criminal justice and human rights issues. Fair Trials International (FTI) is a UK-registered non-governmental organization which works for fair trials according to international standards of justice and defends the rights of those facing charges in a country other than their own. Fair Trials International provides individual legal assistance through its casework practice. It also builds local legal capacity through targeted training, mentoring and network activities.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Aljokhina are two of the members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were convicted to two years prison for their protest performance in the Christ the Saviour Church in Moscow in 2012. Released in late 2013, they have continued their activities both in Pussy Riot actions as well as through their new initiative Zona Prava in support of prisoners in Russia.
Larry Diamond is a professor of political science and sociology at Stanford University and an authoritative expert on the democratization of the developing world. A senior fellow of the Hoover Institute, Diamond directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. He has written and edited 36 books and is the founding co-editor of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy. Diamond has served as an advisor to the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of State.
Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal (1962) has been Deputy Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) since 1997. He is B.A equivalent, with a major in philosophy, and minors in History of Ideas and Christianity. He has studies in journalism, music, mathematics, and human rights. His responsibilities in the NHC include oversight of international criminal law related activities, Norway projects, and Turkey projects. He is the head of the NHC Russia team, directing extensive human rights projects and programs in the country. He was co-drafting and editing the NHC reports on Hungary (2012, 2013). He was in charge in 2008-2009 of a NHC project to assess Norway’s policies related to the Romani national minority, which contributed to the establishment of a government commission to review Norway’s Romani policies. Prior to his employment by the NHC, Ekeløve-Slydal has extensive work experience as editor and project coordinator at the Norwegian Centre of Human Rights, lecturer and Church organist. He has written extensively on human rights and philosophical themes; including a textbook on human rights.