International conference on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is now open

Congress opening

Ximo Puig, President of the Valencian Government, and Mavi Mestre, principal of the Universitat de València, will open an international congress in La Nau building on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, passed on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Matthew Levin, Canada ambassador, and Professor Javier de Lucas, director of the Human Rights Institute of the Universitat de València (IDH-UV), the congress’ organiser, will also take part in the opening act.

Valencian President Ximo Puig stated that “a consideration of the Univresal Declaration of Human Rights is needed today as never before. We all have to support those 30 articles expressing people’s dignity.” Thus, Puig pointed out that in the fight for human rights “there must be only a non-stop fight for keeping the best version. 

In her speech, with quotes of Olympe de Gourges, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Victoria Kent, Clara Campoamor and Carmen Alborch , Rector Mª Vicenta Mestre appreciated ewuialty as an essential value of the Declaration and rejected any kind of violence, particularly violence against women and the LGTBI community. Mestre concluded with UV Professor Rafael Altamira words: ‘human rights would stop that respect would br just a nice sentence, a positive right and not a violated law.”

 Javier de Lucas, professor and director of the IHuman Rights Institute of the Universitat de València (IDH-UV)reminded that this year is the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights and also the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution. De Lucas also stated that current populisms compromise the already achieved rights.

Matthew Levin, Canada’s ambassador, reminded Canada’s role in the Declaration, since John Peters Humprey, Canadian jurist and director of the Human Rights UN Division in 1948, played a significant role in the drafting.

Renowned professors from different countries will be gathered during three days at the International Congress 70 Years of the Human Rights Declaration. They are experts from UN and Ombudsman agencies, right protection bodies, from well-known NGOs, specialised journalists and members of the legal administration.

The Declaration states universal values and a common standard to all nations. The historic document proclaimed unalienable and inherent rights for all human beings no matter their race, skin colour, religion, sex, language, political or other kinds of opinions, national and social origin, properties, birthplace and any other kind of condition. The main objective of the congress is “to evaluate and balance the effectiveness of the recognition and guarantee of rights” as Javier de Lucas explains. Besides, the congress “will also consider the development of the Universal Declaration on the international agreements and case laws, and it will see how the more needed updating and development lines can be projected into the future.”

The opening conference is titled Democracy and human rights before populisms threat and it will be given by Stephane Dion, who is send from Canada by the EU and Europe and Canada ambassador in Germany. In 2000, when he was the minister of Government Affairs, Stephane Dion helped stablishing the Clarity Act, in which criteria, conditions and precaution of possible Quebec’s independence. 

The first panel discussion will be about the fight against women discrimination, an issue which will also discussed in the congress. The panel will be moderated by professor Cristina García Pascual (IDH-UV) and Paz Lloria (UV), María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (UCIII), Ruth Rubio (US, EUI, Firenze) and Colleen Sheppard (Center for Human Rights, Universitat de Toronto) will take part in it. Ruth Rubio has been included in the Gender Justice Legacy Mural installed during this summer in the International Criminal Court in commemoration of her academic work on gender law and the matter of aid for victims.

Fabián Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and No Repetition Guarantees and former president of the UN Human Rights Committee, will give the last conference on the first day of the congress. Salvioli spoke on the need for derogation of the Spanish Ley de Amnistía and so those people responsible during Franco’s dictatorship are investigated, tried and sentenced.

Canada’s contribution

Canadian jurist John Peters Humphrey’s work was significant for the drafting of the Universal Declaration. In that moment, he was the director of the UN Human Rights Division. As an homage, an exhibition from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights will be opened at the Claustre de La Nau, and it will be exhibited in Madrid and Bilbao after that. The figure of this Canadian jurist will also be object of a conference by professor Olivier Barsalou of the University of Quebec in Mont-real, who will be introduced by Esther Mitjans, president of the Canada Foundation.

On Tuesday 11 (at 1:15 p.m. in La Nau), there will be a conference by the French political scientist and president of the scientific committee of the congress Sami Naïr. On Wednesday 12 (at 9:30 a.m.), a conference by the ombudsman Francisco Fernández Marugán will take place in the Assembly Hall of the Gregori Maians Library (Tarongers Campus).

The International Congress 70 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is sponsored by the Presidency of the Valencian Government and it is developed in conjunction with the Canada Embassy, the Canada Foundation, the Office of the Principal of the UV and the faculties of Law and Social Science, the Office of the Ombudsman, Tirant lo Blanch Publishers, and CEAR, PROEMAID and València sense Mordassa NGOs.

The congress sessions will take place in La Nau, the historical building of the Univeristy, on the 10th and the 11th and in the Assembly Hall of the Gregori Maians Library (Tarongers Campus) on the 12th.

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