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Starting now: The launch of our 29th annual World Report, looking at human
rights practices in more than 100 countries and giving an overall summary of the state of human rights globally. Livestream here: facebook.com/HumanRightsWat…
This is the 2nd time we’ve launched our World Report in Berlin. We chose Germany
because of its new UN Security Council seat and because Germany’s voice on
behalf of human rights has become so important. ~ @WenzelMichalski #Rights2019
Now, @HRW’s Executive Director @KenRoth will present his take on the situation of human rights globally, based on his keynote essay: “World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance” #Rights2019 (We’ll take questions from Twitter afterwards.)
“The autocrats have been capturing the headlines these days, but as we look back on the last year, what struck us is that the defenders of human rights, democracy and the rule of law are also gaining strength.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“The populists who spread hatred and intolerance are spawning a resistance. The excesses of autocratic rule are fueling a counterattack.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“That’s not to diminish the problem. Brazil’s new President Bolsonaro is the latest authoritarian example.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Bolsonaro joins the ranks of such established figures as Turkey’s Erdogan, Egypt’s Sisi, the Philippines’ Duterte, Hungary’s Orbán, Russia’s Putin, and China’s Xi Jinping.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Even in Western democracies, autocratic policies were advanced by such leaders as Italy’s Salvini and America’s Trump.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“To make matters worse, some govts have taken advantage of this trend to commit mass atrocities, including in Syria (against civilians in anti-govt areas), Myanmar (against Rohingya) & Yemen (where the Saudi-led coalition is bombing & blockading civilians)” @KenRoth #Rights2019
“That’s the bad news. But what’s impressive over the past year is the considerable pushback that this authoritarianism has prompted.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“People took to the streets in Poland and Hungary. Voters ousted corrupt or authoritarian rules in Malaysia, the Maldives, and Armenia.” ~ @KenRoth
“Popular pressure led to a new reformist prime minister in Ethiopia. US midterm voters rebuked Trump’s divisive policies.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Much of the pushback played out at the UN—even though many of the large Western powers were often unwilling to join in the defense of human rights.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“As we know, Trump preferred to embrace friendly autocrats. Britain was preoccupied with Brexit. France’s Macron spoke a good game but often fell short in practice. Here in Germany, Chancellor Merkel was often beset by political challenges.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Meanwhile, China and Russia did all they could to undermine global rights enforcement.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Against this challenging backdrop, the leaders of the resistance were frequently coalitions of small- and mid-sized states, including some nontraditional allies.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Rather than retreat alongside the larger powers, they stepped forward and assumed greater responsibility, especially at the UN Human Rights Council. In the process, the established several new and important precedents.” ~ @KenRoth
“For example, with respect to Myanmar, the possibility of a Chinese, Russian, or even American veto at the UN Security Council appeared to doom any effort torefer to the ICC the army’s crimes against humanity that sent 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh” @KenRoth
“In response, the Human Rights Council, where there is no veto, created for the first time an investigative mechanism to preserve evidence, identify those responsible, and build cases for prosecution once a tribunal becomes available.”
~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“That signaled that these atrocities cannot be committed with impunity.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“In an unusual partnership, the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation joined the European Union to co-present the council’s resolution on the Rohingya.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Until Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, the OIC had never supported a resolution criticizing a country other than Israel.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“With respect to the war crimes in Yemen, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Canada took the lead, as the Human Rights Council rejected Saudi Arabia’s heavy-handed effort to avoid scrutiny of the war crimes in Yemen.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Despite Saudi threats of economic retaliation, the Council continued an international investigation started last year.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“For the first time, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the severe repression in Venezuela under Maduro. A group of Latin American nations sponsored that effort.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“The US departure from the council under Trump ironically made it easier to succeed, because it let the resolution sponsors show they were addressing Venezuela as a matter of principle rather than as a tool of Washington’s ideology.” ~ @KenRoth
“A group of Latin American governments led by Argentina also organized in the
context of the Human Rights Council the first joint statement on the worsening repression in Nicaragua, as President Ortega responded with violence to growing protests against his repressive rule.”
“Apart from the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court remained important. Five Latin American governments and Canada urged it to open an investigation of crimes in Venezuela…” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“This was the first time that any government has sought an ICC investigation of crimes that took place entirely outside its territory. France and Germany, among others, supported the move.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
ICC also pursued a novel idea for pursuing Myanmar generals. Even though Myanmar isn’t an ICC member, the ICC is examining the crime of ‘deportation,’ on the theory that that crime wasn’t completed until the Rohingya arrived in Bangladesh, which is an ICC member.” @KenRoth
“Governments also acted to strengthen the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Traditionally, the OPCW was empowered to determine only whether chemical weapons had been used, not who used them.”
“Russia opposed any international investigation that could attribute responsibility because it backed the Syrian govt as it repeatedly used chemical weapons, and because Russia itself apparently used the Novichok nerve agent in an attempted
assassination in Britain” #Rights2019
“But in an initiative led by France and Britain, member states voting to grant the OPCW the mandate to begin identifying the users of chemical weapons.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“In the EU, a process that could end in the imposition of political sanctions under Article 7 of the EU Treaty was launched—by the European Commission in the case of Poland, for undermining the independence of the judiciary …”
“…and by a two-thirds majority of the European Parliament in the case of Hungary, for undermining democracy.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Although Poland and Hungary have the power under unanimity rules to shield each other from the actual imposition of such sanctions, the Article 7 process lays the groundwork for using the leverage provided by the EU’s next five-year budget.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Poland is the largest recipient of EU funds, and Hungary is among the largest per capita recipients.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Both have used these funds for their political advantage, so momentum is building within the EU to stop generously funding their attacks on the EU’s core democratic values.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Notably, Germany will have the presidency of the EU at the decisive moment in the second half of 2020.”
“In Syria, a new bloodbath was averted through multilateral pressure.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Three million civilians in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province were at risk of slaughter as the Syrian-Russian military alliance threatened an offensive using their typically indiscriminate bombardment.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“The Kremlin held the keys to whether this feared massacre of civilians proceeded because the Syrian military was incapable of sustaining an offensive without Russian aerial support.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Intensive European pressure on the Russian government ultimately persuaded Putin to agree to a ceasefire in Idlib, beginning in September.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“So far, that ceasefire has held, despite Trump’s announcement of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from a separate area in northeast Syria.” ~ @KenRoth
“The aftermath of the Saudi government’s gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi provided another example of multilateral pressure.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“It is unfortunate that it took the killing of a prominent journalist, rather than of countless unknown Yemeni civilians, to mobilize global outrage at Riyadh, but this single murder turned out to be galvanizing.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Gradually, the US and Canada imposed targeted sanctions against many of the Saudis implicated in the murder.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“In Europe, Germany took the unprecedented step of barring 18 Saudi officials from entering the 26-nation Schengen Zone.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Germany also joined the Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland in stopping arms sales to the kingdom.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Trump pointedly refused to endorse the CIA’s reported finding that the Saudi crown prince had likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder, but the US Senate endorsed that conclusion and voted to end US military assistance for the war in Yemen.” ~ @KenRoth
“This outpouring of criticism seems to have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s willingness to agree in UN-sponsored talks to lifting a blockade of the critical port of Hodeidah that was fueling Yemen’s famine.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“Pressure even mounted on China for its mass detention of one million Uighur Muslims for ‘reeducation.’” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
“All of these reactions increase the cost of serious human rights violations. Ultimately that is the best way to force abusive governments to curb abuses. ” ~ @KenRoth
“The terrain for the fight may have shifted, with many long-time participants missing in action or even switching sides. But effective new coalitions have
emerged to lead the battle—and in the past year they have won some notable,
precedent-setting victories” #Rights2019
“That mounting pressure illustrates the real possibility of defending human rights even in darker times. Indeed, it shows the responsibility to do so. That’s the message of this year’s @HRW World Report.” ~ @KenRoth #Rights2019
We're now taking questions in the room and on Twitter: reply to this tweet and use #Rights2019 hashtag
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