Through presentations by representatives of the most renowned international human rights organizations, the conference seeks to answer the following urgent questions: How to survive in a hostile environment, coping with the lack of resources, in a country not for civil society? What can a watchdog organization do when the very bases of its existence are being jeopardized? How can it effectively support fundamental rights when the government refuses to engage in substantial dialogue? What to do if no lawfully applied legal instruments are available any longer? Survival strategies of human rights organizations from the US, Russia, Egypt, Israel and Hungary will be discussed at the one-day conference.
Speakers include: Anthony Romero (American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU), who will demonstrate through the American example how watchdog organizations reacted to the war on terror announced by the Bush administration; Amr Abdel Rahman (Egyptian Initiative of Personal Rights), who will discuss what watchdogs can do in case of armed conflicts and violent interventions by the state; Pavel Chikov from Russia (AGORA Human Rights Association), who will give an account of the administrative and personal threats since Putin's rise to power concerning the media, civil organizations, the Internet and the political opposition. Chikov will show how such threats gradually undermine human rights activists and organizations. Sharon Abraham-Weiss (Association for Civil Rights in Israel ACRI) will talk about how Israeli democracy has arrived at a crossroads, describing the challenges faced by his organization in operating in a country and society severely traumatized by war and conflict.
Date : May 30th, 9:30-16:00
Program of the conference:
9.30 – 11.00
István Rév (OSA Archives, Director): The strange family resemblance between watchdog NGOs and radical populist governments
Moderator: Gastón Chillier (Center for Legal and Social Studies)
Miklós Haraszti (former OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus since 2012): We are all foreign agents
11.00 – 11.30 Coffee break, press conference
11.30 – 13.00 – Country examples (focusing on lessons to learn)
Amr Abdel Rahman (Egyptian Initiative of Personal Rights): Egypt - Human rights in armed conflict and violence by the state
Pavel Chikov (AGORA Human Rights Association) – Russia: Under administrative and personal threats
Panel Discussion: Pavel Chikov and Amr Abdel Rahman Moderator: Sukanya Pillay (Canadian Civil Liberties Association - CCLA)
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.30 – Country examples (focusing on lesson to learn)
Anthony Romero (American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU): The case of the USA – The war on terror and the Bush administration
Sharon Abraham-Weiss (Association for Civil Rights in Israel- ACRI): The case of Israel – Violation of the rule of law and constitutional principles
Máté Dániel Szabó (HCLU): The case of Hungary – Demolishing the rule of law and attempts to discredit human rights organizations
Panel Discussion: Máté Dániel Szabó, Anthony Romero, Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Moderator: Janet Love (South African Human Rights Commission)
15.30 – 16.00 Conclusions
Stefánia Kapronczay (HCLU, Executive Director)
The conference is being organized by INCLO (International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations), an association of 10 independent national human rights organizations that have accumulated a great deal of experience through decades of human rights activism in their countries. The competences of all member organizations include many fields of activity concerning human rights, and their operations affect several social groups and are independent from the government. The association strives to raise the attention of the public and of decision makers to the importance of fundamental rights.