The defense of human rights and democracy are at the center of the opening of the Human Dimension Conference in Warsaw

WARSAW, 26 September 2022 – The Warsaw Conference on the Human Dimension kicked off today, bringing together international organisations, governments and civil society for a 10-day event to discuss the state of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the OSCE region.

During the opening session, speakers stressed the crucial place of the human dimension in the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security and the importance of creating opportunities for stakeholders to exchange views on this broad topic.

“Human rights are inalienable, and their articulation and defense are among humanity’s greatest achievements. To deny human rights to anyone, especially the vulnerable and weak, is to deprive them of their dignity and sense of freedom and security. Such willful disregard for individual freedom and choice is a fundamental characteristic of a totalitarian regime,” said OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. “This totalitarian ideology today bears the name of Russky mir,” he added.

“We are now facing a number of global crises which make it even more demanding to respect democratic principles and human rights – not only in the newest or most fragile democracies, but in all our countries. “, said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “The OSCE remains in a unique position to offer solutions to these complex challenges, and the ODIHR will continue to fulfill its mandate to promote the rights and freedoms of every individual in our region, placing the voices of civil society at the center of our collective response,” he concluded.

“Sustainable security cannot be achieved without human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This is why the OSCE integrates human dimension issues into everything we do,” said OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid. “We do this in close co-operation with civil society, a key partner in addressing unprecedented challenges in the OSCE region. When we – the OSCE, our participating States, civil society and other partners – work together, we can improve security, rights, freedoms and opportunities today and for generations to come.

“Human rights depend on a rules-based order about borders. Because the use of force to change borders necessarily leads to violence, to the violation of human rights”, declared the special guest of the Conference, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia from 2006 to 2016. “It is therefore not surprising that all OSCE participating States have agreed that lasting security cannot be achieved without respect for human rights and the proper functioning of democratic institutions. They are committed to a comprehensive catalog of human rights and democratic standards,” he stressed.

In the coming days, more than 1,500 participants will take part in plenary sessions devoted to fundamental freedoms, democratic institutions, tolerance and non-discrimination, the rule of law and humanitarian issues. In addition, there are nearly 100 side events organized by OSCE participating States, civil society organizations and OSCE institutions, designed to address general aspects of human dimension commitments.

The Warsaw Conference on the Human Dimension continues until 7 October. More information about the conference is available here. Follow #WarsawHDC on Twitter.

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