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What Price Human Rights?

Illustration
  • Where: Prague Crossroads, St. Anna´s Church, Prague
  • When: October 11, 2017, 09:00 – 17:00

In democratic societies, there exists a fundamental consensus about the importance of human rights and adherence to human rights standards. This consensus, however, begins to falter when specific human rights are found to be in an apparent or genuine conflict with other important human sights, such as security, prosperity or the majority principle in a democracy.

The upcoming 5th international Václav Havel Human Rights Prize Conference, which is awarded by the Václav Havel Library in Prague together with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Charta 77 Foundation aims to discuss these conflicts and their resolution. Its three panels dedicated to human rights and security, human rights and prosperity, and human rights and democracy will offer the floor to leading Czech and international experts, activists and politicians. The audience can also look forward to a special appearance of one of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

The shortlist of this year's Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

  • Murat Arslan (Turkey) The nominee, in detention since 2016, is a well-known and reputed judge. President of the now dissolved Association for the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV), he has always been a supporter of the independence of the judiciary. 
  • Hungarian Helsinki Committee A non-governmental human rights organisation founded in 1989 and based in Budapest, it carries out a broad range of activities in the area of human rights with a particular focus on access to justice and the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.
  • Father Georg Sporschill (Austria) A Jesuit who has devoted his life to the care of the most vulnerable, notably children. He has set up an association (Elijah) which carries out numerous projects in Austria, Bulgaria, Republic of Moldova and  Romania.

Previous Laureates of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

  • 2016 Nadia Murad (Iraq) A young, brave Yazidi woman, who managed to flee ISIS in northern Iraq. Today a human rights activist, she brings the plight of the Yazidi community, in particular the forced sexual enslavement and human trafficking of women and children captured by ISIS, to the forefront of international attention.   
  • 2015 Lyudmila Aexeyeva (Russia) is a veteran human rights defender in her native Russia. In her youth, she gave up a promising academic career to join the Soviet dissident movement, going on to become a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Forced to emigrate to the US in 1977, she returned to Russia in 1989 to continue her work, becoming President of the International Helsinki Foundation and later joining the Russian President’s Commission on Human Rights. She has worked relentlessly for the protection and promotion of the rule of law.
  • 2014 Anar Mammadli (Azerbaijan) is a renowned Azerbaijani human rights defender who has made a marked contribution to the respect of human rights and free elections in his region. He is founder and chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS), which since 2001 has monitored votes in Azerbaijan. In December 2013, Anar Mammadli was charged with “abuse of office” and in May 2014 was sentenced to five and a half years in prison. 
  • 2013 Ales Bialiatski (Belarus) From the start of the 1980s, Ales Bialiatski, a young Belarusian writer and graduate of the Gomel University Faculty of History and Philology, joined the national democratic movement. While the world was still divided by the Iron Curtain, he became a founding member of the Belarusian Popular Front. Helping to create a young writers’ association that he chaired for several years, Ales went on to join the Belarusian Writers’ Union. Later, he organised the first demonstrations against totalitarianism.This commitment led to his imprisonment in 1988, marking the start of a long series of arrests and harassment. In 1996, in the face of the increasing repression of the Lukachenko regime, Ales Bialiatski created the Human Rights Centre Viasna. In 2007, just three years after joining International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ales Bialiatski was elected its Vice-President, the first representative of the former Soviet countries to be elected to the FIDH International Board.  

The list of invited speakers includes

José Maria Aznar (Spain), Irwin Cotler (Canada), David Eubank (USA), Marcel Gauchet (France), Marcel Gauchet (France), Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (Germany), Olga Lomová (Czech Republic), Joshua Muravchik (USA), Martin Palouš (Czech Republic), Grigorij Pasko (Russia), Rosa María Payá (Cuba), Tomáš Pojar (Czech Republic), Peter Pomerantsev (United Kingdom / Russia), Adam Roberts (United Kingdom), Eva Romancovová (Czech Republic), Karel Schwarzenberg (Czech Republic), Jiří Šitler (Czech Republic), Martin Veselovský (Czech Republic), Annie Yang (China), Lubomír Zaorálek (Czech Republic)

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Diary entry for 5. December 2005, To the Castle and Back

„In short, Being has a memory. And thus even my insignificance – as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves – will remain here for ever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.“

Václav Havel:
Diary entry for 5. December 2005, To the Castle and Back, 2006

What Price Human Rights?