A journey through Human Rights

SUMMIT. Tuesday 24th of February 2015, advocates, journalists, NGO representatives, diplomats, activists, students and the public were gathered for the 7th consecutive year at the 2015 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy - International Center of Conferences /Geneva (CICG).

Victims of barbarism, political dissidents, escaped former prisoners, women, youths, elderly people had the courage to speak about the blatant and systematic human rights violations that are taking place today in a good number of more or less democratic countries.

Human rights are not negotiable, they are not a gift, a present that a State may withdraw or give. The absence of human rights changes society, transforms daily life into some kind of hell. Citizens have rights, States have only duties. The tragedies are taking place in various contexts at different levels in an impressive range not necessarily with any link between poverty and terror.

All little bit everywhere in the world, human beings are threatened by crual dictatorships sometimes rooted since more than 50 years where the rights of the inhabitants are systematically violated…

Asia Bibi or Raif Badawi and many others known or unknown everywhere in the world are led to jail and death in all impunity. Their only fault being to exist or express their questions, their choices in a peaceful way and to show moral strength.

The prestigious Courage Price of the 2015 Geneva Summit was given to Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 year of jail and 1000 lashes for having “insulted Islam » by creating a website for Saudi liberals, and to Iranian journalist  Masih Alinejad for her imagination and incredible courage in Iran, encouraging women to take off their veil on Facebook in the freedom of being themselves.

We are living in a new world…if we are noticing everywhere a tendency towards autoritarism, we are also noticing a revival of the international public opinion. Dictators know that they are living their last moments and are increasing their grip over their territory and population. We are facing new challenges. Even in so called “democratic” countries, the basis of the social contract is not even clear.

Even if it is clear that States have more means to act than citizens,  by evidencing its identity, the civil society is capable of creating new legitimacies and to oppose authoritative legitimacies. It is time to concentrate our efforts on  the civil society, to start reforms by the respect of the human person.

Next week, from the  2nd  to  27th  March, the world’s attention will turn to Geneva during the Human Rights Council that will meet for its 29th  session. This UN body, created 10 years ago, has the mandate to deal with blatant and systematic human rights violations among its various member countries.

The 2015 Geneva Summit wished to pay tribute to these leaders and diplomats who are showing solidarity and to all those who make these persons voices heard through the UN mechanisms.

Isabelle Bourgeois


Some extracts here