Summit on International Law and Human Rights
Summit on International Law and Human RightsPosted by Editor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
On 4 and 5 February 2015, the Summit on International Law and Human Rights took place at the Peace Palace. It was organised by Mark Donfried, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) and co-organised by Judge Julia Sebutinde, member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). A great number of intensive speeches were held. The speakers included the President of the ICJ, Peter Tomka, H.E. Darius Semaška, Lithuania’s Ambassador, Mrs. Gwénaëlle Grovonius, Belgian MP and H.E. Ms Ireny Comaroschi, Ambassador of Romania.
Most speakers agreed that international law should act as a shield to protect human rights and the importance of diplomacy and cooperation. However, many more subjects were touched upon, as for instance the Swedish Ambassador, H.E. Jan Gustafson Håkan Emsgård, who spoke about women’s rights. The article summarises many speeches:
H.E. Maria Teresa Infante Caffi, Ambassador of Chile, gave an excellent speech. She examined that all institutions on international level should acknowledge the different approaches in order to find commons groups in international law to diminish religious, ethnic, social and political differences. As written in the human rights statues, she called for equality, freedom, and its support for human rights. Moreover, she stated that international law is a complement to domestic law, which should be kept up- to-date and at the same pace.
The Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Haim Divon chose the topic of the role of International Human Rights Law in human development. He states that all soldiers of the Israel Defence Force are familiar with the law of Human Development. Furthermore, it was stated that Israel does its best to not violate human rights, but to protect the civilians. The State of Israel has already found many solutions, which may aid also other countries, who are in a similar situation, including illegal migration, terrorism and crimes against humanity.
Afterwards, the Ambassador of Malta, H.E. Mr Joseph Cole held his speech about Human Rights and the Initiation of a New Era. He indicated that as the human mind grows the capacity for International law and Human Rights must grow as well and cannot stay behind. Further, he spoke of the development after WWI, WWII and the Cold War – how human rights have rapidly developed during the post war times. However, he addressed also that laws are different in many countries and therefore lead to controversy on international stage. Moreover, he said that Human Rights are top criteria of the United Nations and in addition to that, human rights affect the very base of a countries economy. Hence, he urged that all countries should accept the ICC’s law base as the base of domestic courts to enable further human rights protection.
H.E. Mr Igor Popov, Ambassador of Macedonia said, “The growth of the community has not come alone, but with difficulty and new challenges.” He quoted Pope Francis – “also unfair economic structures can violate human rights”. He concluded with a poem by Dylan Thomas: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’. From which the lines “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” and “Do not go gently into that good night” should be seen as a motivation and style for life to bring justice, equality and peace about human kind.
Next, a Member of the European Parliament from Spain, Ms Beatriz Becerra presented the idea of creating a pact for democracy and human rights, which her party has created. She urges that third world issues must be supported by the developed states.
The last speaker of the first day was Professor Dr. Simone Pront-van Bommel, University of Amsterdam, who spoke about access to energy supply, its price and whether it should be a human right or not in for example the European Union. Moreover, she discussed that energy must also be efficiently produced. If Europe is to fight energy poverty from which 15 million people suffer in Europe, it must further continue to improve in many sectors.
The next morning, the General Director of the Peace Palace, Steven van Hoogstraten started the day with the topic of Human Rights, a standard for civilised behaviour or a set of legal norms. He argued that often human rights are more a call to society and not a law, except as in for example the EU. Nonetheless, is should be endorsed as such. However, in some countries the human rights are seen more as a law for the collective and not as such for the individual.
Judge Sanji Monageng, Vice-President of the ICC gave a speech about the role of the ICC in international law and the promotion of human rights. She reasoned that it is not impossible to prosecute political leaders. This can promote human rights as the domestic courts can do so. Many states such as The Netherlands and South Africa have accepted laws on human rights from the ICC as one of the first.
Joyce Aluoch, Judge at the ICC held a speech about laws for children, their adoption and same sex relationships. She spoke about the different laws in the constitution of Botswana, how it issued these topics and its discrimination to human kind.
Followed by Xavier-Jean Ketta, Principal Counsel at the ICC, who spoke about the Rome Statue as a descendant of the universal declaration of Human Rights. He stated that the Rome statue respected human rights, before the other laws. In addition, he explained that the ICC has reached its goal to provide visits to prosecuted.
Afterwards, Appeals Council Dr. Dominica Svard held her speech about International Courts as a Tool for promotion and protection of human rights. She highlighted that the standards of human rights is already higher than ever imagined by the UN drafters. The ICJ has drawn information upon the statues of NGOs as for example Amnesty International.
Diana Totinska interviewed Mr. Donfried during the event:
Diana Totinska: Why did you decide to organise the summit/ Why on this topic? How did you get inspired?
Mark Donfried: “In order to define cultural diplomacy in the wider spectrum, human rights and international law need to be addressed. Furthermore, to build trust and understanding in cultural diplomacy, you need to deal with human rights too. The International Court of Justice in the Peace Palace, of course, is the ideal place to discuss these issues.”
Diana Totinska: Are you satisfied with the result?
Mark Donfried: Yes, indeed, many positive feedbacks were heard from the participants as well as from the speakers.
Diana Totinska: Are there going to be more event related to this summit?
Mark Donfried: Yes, there are going to be several events (3/4) in relation to the topic. There is going to be an event in Kosovo, in Iceland, etc. For detailed information, please visit our website: