The conference´s long title already gives a sneak peak on the complexity of issues which are discussed every year in Warsaw. It´s Europe´s largest human rights conference where civil society organisations and state represantatives come together to discuss current human rights issues and tendencies in the course of two weeks. 2017 the main topics encompassed the right to equality and non-discrimination as well as cultural, social and economical rights and were discussed in plenary sessions and side events. Since there is a shrinking space for the civil society in the OSCE region (Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus and North America), it is more important than ever to exchange good practices, to build up a strong network, to give recommendations for fields of action and to call out states for human rights violations and potential threats.
The conference is anually organised by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), an independent human rights body based in Warsaw. Equipped with a mandate to operate on the human dimension, ODIHR assists Member States in fulfilling their human rights commitments through observing elections, establishing the rule of law, issuing guidelines on human rights education, providing legal reviews if requested, organising trainings to combat hate speech, and fostering co-operation between various stakeholders from state (executive, legislative and judicial) and civil society to enhance human rights.
Current issues in the human rights sphere are the rise of nationalist and populist parties posing a threat to democracy and the rule of law, radicalisation, security threats to religious groups and minorities, racism and hate speech.
My personal highlight was the session dedicated to humanitarian issues including refugee rights. Hopefully the OSCE Ministerial Council will follow up with a decision to give ODIHR a mandate to work on the human dimension for refugees. They need to be provided with adequate accommodation, nutrition, health services, psychological support and education. It is time for the OSCE to take on a leadership role to solve the migration crisis in a humanitarian manner.
Information on the OSCE website http://www.osce.org/odihr/hdim_2017
Live webstreaming of the conference available