From Europe to Asia, authoritarianism and illiberal governments are hitting headlines around the world today in ways not experienced for many decades. How do liberals respond?
This was the questioned that members on Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC) sought to answer when visiting the Federal Commission for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic.
Meeting with Federal Commissioner, Roland Jahn, who is responsible for overseeing the Stasi Archives, LI HRC looked at the various tools utilized by authoritarian regimes, and discussed how to make democracy more resilient to encroaching populism and so-called ‘hard-liners.’
Commissioner Jahn draw on his experiences as a former human rights activist in East Germany at the time on the Cold War to highlight strategies for (re)building democracy and promoting liberal values in hostile conditions. “Applying the rule of law to a system which broke the law in the first place is not effective. Therefore, the Office of the Stasi Archives was transformed into a mechanism for addressing injustices and reconciling with the past.”
He further continued saying: “Human rights promotion and advancement lays at the center of our work: it’s a bridge between the past and the present. I am therefore happy to have Liberal International here as a champion of human rights. Such bilateral exchanges are very important as they contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of oppression. “
The meeting was attended by 19 members on LI Human Rights Committee from across three different continents who posed various questions pertaining to the faith of the officers who served at the Federal Commission at the time and the rehabilitation practices being facilitated between victims and perpetrators.
On the fringes of the bilateral meeting with Commissioner Jahn, LI HRC members held extensive discussions on the future work of the Committee and its strategy moving forward. Key decisions were made surrounding the current priority working areas with the understanding that civil and political rights will become a major focus area in an effort to promote liberal politicians as human rights defenders.