Since its beginning EIUC organises conferences on topical issues with the COHOM (Working Party on Human Rights) which is responsible for shaping the EU Human Rights policy in its external relations. The annual Diplomatic Conference is a unique opportunity for enhancing the dialogue among academics and diplomats on common human rights issues of interest. Conferences like these, enabling to tackle a same question with a practical and theoretical angle, represent a source of mutual enrichment both for diplomats and academics. It usually takes place in Venice in the third weekend of July which coincides with the Redentore Festival. Besides the “Diplomatic Conferences”, EIUC regularly organises high level conferences, seminars and workshops on the latest scientific and academics developments.
The EU and the Economic Social and Cultural Rights (DC 2012)
The 2012 Diplomatic Conference took place on 14 July in Venice Lido. Programme
Comparative Approaches to Democratic Transitions (DC 2011)
The 2011 Diplomatic Conference was opened by Prof. Horst Fischer, EIUC President. The first part of the conference was introduced by Ms Véronique Arnault, Director for Human Rights and Democracy, European External Action Service (EEAS) and the second part by Mr. Aristotelis Bouratsis, Director of DEVCO.D “Human and Society Development”, European Union. Mr. Engelbert Theuermann, COHOM Chair, closed the conference.
The 2011 Diplomatic Conference aimed at comparing periods of democratic transition from the experiences of the central and Eastern Europe countries and the actual situation of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, etc.
The conference saw the participation of several international specialists and professors of the MENA region.
The 2011 Review of the UN Human Rights Council (DC 2010)
The 2010 Diplomatic Conference discussed the first four years of life of the UN HRC and the review of its status, work and functioning. This review had to take the HRC mandate as basis and comprise two different but complementary processes to be conducted in New York and Geneva. Whilst the HRC status was to be reviewed by the General Assembly, its work and functioning would have been examined by the Council itself. The aim of the conference was to examine the impact of the HRC institutional status on the implementation of its mandate. On the other hand, it tackled some challenges relating to the review of the HRC work. Special attention was given to the review of the Universal Periodic Review, as an innovative HRC instrument for the protection of human rights, and to the analysis of the several proposals made to improve the functioning of the system of Special Procedures.
The impact of the global economic crisis on human rights (DC 2009)
The 2009 Diplomatic Conference discussed the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on human rights. Specific focus was devoted to themes such as the environment, social rights and the impact on civil society. The aim of the conference was to reflect on how to put human rights principles and not only economic interests at the heart of crisis responses and global economic governance.
Living the UDHR after 60 Years: Knowledge, Technology and Human Rights (DC 2008)
The 2008 Diplomatic Conference has been organised in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was devoted to exploring the ability of the UDHR to respond to pressing global challenges that have emerged on the international agenda in the decades after the adoption of the UDHR.
Taking into account a diversity of institutional perspectives on current opportunities and challenges in international human rights, the conference examined three main themes: Human rights policy challenges for the European Union; Globalisation, Poverty and scientific progress; and Urbanisation and environment. A particular focus of the conference was to identify guidelines for the role of the EU in the UN Human Rights Council.
The implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights
The primary purpose of the conference was to evaluate the state of implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights and to explore possible means of enhancing such implementation. This involved examining the working relations between the three main EU institutions as well as the role of civil society and academia, etc., in exhorting the EU to work consistently with the guidelines.
The EU Guidelines on death penalty, torture, protection of children in armed conflict, and protection of human rights defenders (i.e. all guidelines except the guidelines on human rights dialogues) have been addressed at the conference with the aim of exploring the cross-cutting issues (e.g. what is the state of implementation and how to enhance this?; what does this imply with respect to EU inter-institutional cooperation and cooperation with civil society?) by drawing on the experience derived from working with the different guidelines.
The role of the European Union in the newly established UN Human Rights Council
The principal aim of the Conference was to engage all participants in a deliberation on various aspects and implications of the newly established UN Human Rights Council, including issues related to the need for preserving inclusiveness in the UN human rights system, synergies between human rights and the two other main branches of the UN system, namely security and development, etc. Such issues were examined in view of the priorities set by the European Union policies in support of human rights and democratisation, as well as in view of the policy priorities of other international organisations.
In Larger Freedom – Reform of the UN Human Rights Mechanisms (DC 2005)
The principal aim of the 2005 Diplomatic Conference, was to engage all participants in a deliberation on “In Larger Freedom – an examination and evaluation of Kofi Annan’s proposal for reform of the UN system, and in particular its human rights mechanisms”, notably in line with the priorities set by the European Union policies in support of human rights and democratisation.
Human Rights and Counterterrorism Strategies
International terrorism poses a threat to the protection of human rights in several ways. Terrorism poses a direct threat to the human rights of populations worldwide, both in terms of the immediate danger to life and integrity of person and by the destruction of infrastructure and hindrance of economic prosperity that is an inescapable consequence of terrorist attacks. But there is also an indirect threat to human rights, so to speak, in so far as measures adopted by governments in their efforts to counter terrorism – or passed by governments with a sometimes tenuous reference to terrorism – often have a tendency to place human rights in jeopardy. This is a very unfortunate consequence as it allows the enemies of human rights, democracy and rule of law to profoundly shape the contemporary agenda of international relations and policy-making at the domestic level. In effect such a yielding of the centre stage to the detractors of human rights already marks a defeat of the cause which counter-terrorist measures are ostensibly designed to protect. It is therefore of crucial importance that governments, academia, and civil society organisations join forces in an effort to reverse this trend and conceive of effective counter-terrorism strategies that are compliant and compatible with established, hard won human rights standards.
How to improve the EU input into UN human rights policies (DC 2003)
The principal aim of the 2003 Diplomatic Conference was to engage all participants in a working group deliberation on how to improve the EU input into UN human rights policies, notably in light of the difficulties experienced at the last session of the UN Human Rights Commission as well as challenges presenting themselves in the post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Relations between the EU and third countries with specific reference to the intercultural dialogue, human rights and fight against terrorism (DC 2002)
The aim of the 2002 Diplomatic Conference was to engage all participants in a working group exercise on the relations between the EU and third countries with specific reference to the intercultural dialogue, human rights and the fight against terrorism.
The Master in Human Rights and Democratisation (DC 2001)
The aim of the 2001 Diplomatic Conference was to consolidate the relationship already established with the EU member states Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the occasion of the previous year’s first edition of the Diplomatic Conference, with a view to strengthen the core operational aspects of the E.MA programme: the training of human rights monitors and observers as well as experts in technical assistance to the development of democratic institutions.
The EU and the central role of human rights and democratic principles in relations with third countries
The Conference was organised under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, in cooperation with E.MA. This initiative was launched in response to the successful Human Rights Discussion Forum that was held in Brussels on 30 November/ 1 December 1999. The Forum offered members of the EU institutions and representatives from academic institutions and NGOs their first opportunity to discuss together EU human rights priorities and policies. The Conference main objective was therefore to collect ideas and suggestions of governments, civil society partners, academics, and international organisations - governmental and non governmental -, on methods and instruments to carry out in order to strengthen coherence, consistency and effectiveness of EU human rights action in external relations.