On the 16th July 2021, EUD attended the 1st Annual Conference on the Global State of Human Rights, which was organised by the European Parliament and the Global Campus of Human Rights. It was attended by participants from around the world, including Members of the European Parliament, EU Commissioners, Nobel Peace Prize recipients, and representatives from academia and international organisations.
The opening remarks from the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, highlighted that ‘Europe puts human beings at its centre, protects them by law by democracy and by fundamental rights’. Veronica Gomez, President of the Global Campus, talked about function and extensive academic network of the Global Campus of Human Rights.
The discussions during the conference covered three main topics:
- Improving the business and human rights relationship: What role can due diligence and a value-centred approach play?
Mrs Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the European Parliament argued that EU should adopt ambitious due diligence legislation to help create a legal standard of responsible and sustainable companies to respect human rights and still conduct business. Mrs Hautala also reminded that some of the current business practices have led to environmental and human rights abuses from labour exploitation to land grabbing.
- A Pandemic of Impunity: Why does Accountability Matter?
Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Vice President of the European Parliament opened the second panel session arguing that the global pandemic has exposed grave violations of human rights, crimes against humanity and revealed ongoing war crimes continue to be perpetrated. Furthermore, Mr Castaldo cautioned that this comes at a time where the international accountability framework such as Rome Statue system is weakening, the International Criminal Court is a crucial step towards safeguarding basic rights and fighting against impunity for the worst crimes. Mr Castaldo reminded the participants that the COVID-19 affirmed that global problems require global solutions.
- What is a values-based foreign policy worth when responding to human rights and democracy issues around the world?
Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International explained how the EU refute the Values-based policy based on its foundations on human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. The EU institutions were created after the Holocaust precisely to heal the wounds and ensure that the horrific events of the past would never be repeated in the present. Mrs Callamard argued that the EU should promote multilateral rights-based approach and also that true value-based approach should address dynamically the inequality that benefits from human rights violations.
The event highlighted the need to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms across all regions of the world. Several speakers highlighted the European Parliament’s strong push for the adoption of legislation on corporate due diligence, advocating stronger legal measures for protecting fundamental human rights and promoting the fight against climate change.
The conference was a unique opportunity to find out about the work of several human rights organisations and academic and state parties from around the globe to safeguard human rights and the value of protecting our fundamental freedoms. The next Global State of Human Rights conference will take place in Venice in mid-July 2022.