Gathering for its 10th bi-annual meeting, members on the newly elected Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC), discussed strategies on advancing international justice and the rule of law in the very seat of the international legal system: the Hague, Netherlands.
In panel discussions with the Secretary-General of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD, LI cooperating organisation) Kiat Sittheeamorn, former Member of the European Parliament Lousewies Van Der Laan (D66, LI full-member), Member of the European Parliament Ilhan Kyuchyuk (MRF, LI full-member) and the CEO of the Hague Institute for Global Justice, Steven Van Hoogstraten, LI HRC members debated how liberals can make international justice work and what future there is for the international legal system.
Hoogstraten agreed that improving accountability is not a responsibility just for international institutions and that “a monitoring mechanism alongside a prosecutorial system is necessary in order to make the international justice system more efficient” while Van Der Laan stressed that “international institutions need to work with national states in achieving global justice and liberal order.” She further explained that maintaining prevention systems and international legal systems is crucial for sustaining global peace and accountability and global liberal order.
Warning of the decline in democracy worldwide, Sittheamorn insisted that justice is a tricky issue. “International justice can only be achieved when the rule of law is respected and the judicial process is credible and accountable. The response to atrocities and injustices must be swift which is why preventive measures are also increasingly important: the quicker we react the more lives we can save” he said.
On the fringes of these debates, the LI HRC also met with the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, who welcomed the overwhelming support from liberals in government and opposition for the important work of the Court. “The work of parliamentarians in the ratification of the Rome Statute treaty and its national implementation of the Rome Statute is key which is why I am delighted to welcome such a large delegation from Liberal International to the ICC Headquarters” she said.
Ilham Tohti has used his right to freedom of speech. The Chinese government seems to be so scared of the idea of freedom, that it is sending anyone who demands personal liberty and political freedoms to prison.
A key highlight of the event was the presentation of the 2017 LI Prize for Freedom to the Uyghur activist Ilham Tohti who is currently serving a life-term jail sentence in China on politically motivated charges stemming from his actions to promote conciliation between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. Presenting the award to Marie Holzman, a co-founder of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, Chairman of LI Human Rights Committee Markus Loening said: “Ilham Tohti has used his right to freedom of speech. The Chinese government seems to be so scared of the idea of freedom, that it is sending anyone who demands personal liberty and political freedoms to prison.”
This was the second meeting of the Committee since the confirmation of its mandate by the 199th LI Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, where LI HRC members exchanged best practices and ideas on strengthening the global human rights movement with the senior leadership of the South African Human Rights Commission. The meeting was co-hosted by VVD, D66 and ALDE Party (LI full-members) with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (LI cooperating organisation) and it saw 15 LI HRC members and 10 guest delegates representing 12 countries from 3 different continents.