Since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, there has been an overwhelming number of challenges that have faced the establishment and protection of Human Rights. In this globalised and multi-cultural world of ever-increasing mobility, rights relating to immigration and integration have become more salient than ever. This has led to the international Human Rights framework being put to the test in new ways, raising new questions and developing a severe need for new answers. The London International Human Rights Congress explored the challenges that we, as humans, face in a time of unprecedented mobility and aimed to provide much needed solutions.
Hosted across a number of exclusive venues in Central London, the London International Human Rights Congress, hosted by the ICD, and the Slovenian Democratic Party and in co-operation with leading organisations focused on, “Immigration and Integration in an age of Austerity”. With a wide variety of speakers from academia and those with real-life experience of dealing with the ambiguity of Human Rights, a selection of events including keynote lectures and panel discussions aimed at theorising and articulating the key issues. This included lectures and talks from Professors, Ambassadors, and representatives of charitable organisations including Transparency International and Survivors Fund, knowledgeable speakers also included a number of Genocide campaigners and survivors.
In addition to the success of the conference itself, and inspired and supported by Janez Jansa (Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia 2004-2008), we were able to launch four major Human Rights Initiatives.
These Initiatives are: Born Equal: Women’s Rights; The Sound of Freedom: Freedom of Expression and Advocates Abroad: Promoting Soft Power through Direct Utilization of the International Legal Powers. It is hoped that through the collaboration and discussion in these conferences and talks there can be a development of awareness and views can be openly shared to move forward towards a clear understanding that can weather the storm of austerity.
Agenda and Conclusions:The event opened with Dianne Abbot, MP (Member of the British Parliament) on Immigration & Integration in an Age of Austerity: Challenges and Opportunities, which took place in the London Charity Centre. After sparking lively debate, the challenges of promoting Human Rights within the global reality of an economic downturn became an extremely salient topic. The first round of talks was then brought to a close by Ms Mona Deeley, Director for the Zenith Foundation on the Death of Multiculturalism. Over the course of the day, the conference moved away from the lecture format, and a panel discussion including the participation of both aforementioned speakers, plus the ICD’s Mr. Mark Donfried was held, discussing the challenges that integration and migration policies face in an age of austerity. The mid-morning brought the second round of speakers including; a lecture by Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International, an NGO dedicated to the exposure of corrupt practices. In addition, John Cryer, Member of the British Parliament gave an excellent lecture on the theme of: “The EU, the Rise of the Far Right and Implications for the Future.”
The following day brought numerous speakers to the Romanian Embassy in London. Participants and speakers alike were greeted by H.E. Amb. Ion Jinga, Ambassador of Romania to the United Kingdom, who expressed great appreciation for the chance to host the ICD Human Rights conference at the Romanian Embassy. The first speaker of the day was Mr. Matt Cavanagh, Associate Director for UK Migration Policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Adding to the dimensions of the conference and falling into line with one of the ICD Human Rights initiatives on freedom of expression, Heather Blake, UK Director for Reporters without Borders, gave a speech about the influence of media in cultural diplomacy. Other key figures speaking on the topic of the challenges of modern Human Rights promotion.
The third day involved a number of key speeches including a discussions lead by the Head of the ICD Human Rights Program, Dr. Yehoeshahfaht Ben Israel and ICD Director and Founder Mr. Mark Donfried. The day also included an extremely thought-provoking speech by Prof. Dr. Jack Spence OBE, Professor at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, on “Human Rights: An Ambiguous Legacy.” The final day was equally constructed with key speeches by such prominent figures as; H. E. Baktygul Kalambekova, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the United Kingdom, H.E. Amb. Acisclo Valladares Molina, Ambassador of Guatemala to the United Kingdom and prominent academics in the relevant fields of diplomacy and Human Rights including Prof. Carla Figuera, Professor at Goldsmiths University of London.
With thanks to the partnership of the Slovenian Democratic Party and the co-operation of other organisations, the congress and initiatives launch were both successful at exploring the dynamic structure of Human Rights whilst including various angles of involvement, from those that are affected by human rights abuse to those who can change it effects.
Despite the challenges and sheer scale of accurate definition, which must be undertaken by governments and international institutions, this conference can be regarded as a step forward in the development of soft power relations and developing an increasing understanding of global events.
Highlights of this congress included the Human Rights Initiatives Launch, an inspirational congress introductory lecture by Diane Abbott, MP and emotional shared experiences from genocide survivors. Alongside these informative events, the venues, speakers and participants allowed this conference to be both intriguing and thought-provoking, providing access to academic debates and provocative ideas.
ICD Director and Founder, Mark Donfried, concluded the event urging the further collaboration between cultural diplomacy and Human Rights initiatives in order to use explore previously under practiced approaches to the globalisation of internationally recognisable and respected Human Rights policies. The London International Human Rights Congress aimed to go some way towards this end, addressing the key issues of immigration and integration in this current age of austerity and it is hoped that this occasion can mark a new era in Human Rights development in cooperation with cultural diplomacy initiatives.
It became clear throughout the conference that the European Countries need to work closer together to ensure the enforcement and protection of human rights and the lead that Slovenian leaders are taking on this front is an impressive example that the rest of Europe can learn from.
- H.E. Amb. Acisclo Valladares Molina, Ambassador of Guatemala to the United Kingdom
- H. E. Baktygul Kalambekova, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the United Kingdom
- Prof. Carla Figuera, Professor, Goldsmiths University of London
- Christina G. Hioureas, Associate Lawyer, Latham & Watkins LLP
- Diane Abbott (MP), Member of the British Parliament
- Don Flynn, Director, Migrants' Rights Network
- Elena Katselli, Lecturer, University of Newcastle
- Gwendolen Morgan, Solicitor, Public Law and Human Rights department, Bindmans LLP
- Heather Blake, UK Representative for Reporters without Borders
- Prof. Helen Fenwick, Professor of Law and Co-Director of Human Rights Centre, University of Durham
- Hussein Haeri, Associate at Latham and Watkins LLP
- H.E. Amb. Ion Jinga, Ambassador of Romania to the United Kingdom
- Prof. Dr. Jack OBE Spence, Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
- Jerome Phelps, Director of Detention Action
- John Cryer (MP), Member of the British Parliament
- Linda Melvern, British Investigative Journalist
- Lucas Bastin, Latham & Watkins Associate
- Mark Littlewood, Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs
- Maryam Al-Khawaja, Head of Foreign Relations for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
- Matt Cavanagh, Associate Director for UK Migration Policy, Institute for Public Policy Research
- Melody Hossaini, Director, InspirEngage
- Mona Deeley, Director, Zenith Foundation
- Neil Jameson, Founding Executive Director , Citizens UK
- Peter Bradley, Former MP and Director of Speakers Corners
- Peter Eigen, Founder, Transparency International
- Rebecca Tinsley, Founder, Waging Peace and Network for Africa
- Roy Bennett, Treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change of Zimbabwe
- Suzanne McCarthy, Immigration Services Commissioner, United Kingdom
- Dr. Yehoeshahfaht Ben Israel, Head of Human Rights Team