Protecting space for civil society, defending human rights and fundamental freedoms for all
Each year, hundreds of government officials, international experts, and human rights advocates gather for the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) – Europe’s largest human rights conference and a unique regional forum for governments and civil society to meet to discuss pressing human rights issues and challenges in Europe, Central Asia, and North America.
OSCE countries recognize that when governments violate their citizens’ fundamental rights, they endanger peace and security not only within their borders, but beyond them too. Recognizing the direct relationship between protecting human rights and the common security of OSCE states is what led to the “human dimension” of the OSCE’s work — the sum of human rights commitments and norms all OSCE States have pledged to uphold.
Human rights norms and commitments, though central to international security, do not implement themselves. At HDIM, participants review how well OSCE countries are keeping our collective human rights promises. We encourage countries to move beyond signing up to protect human rights to standing up for them in word and deed. And we explore new ways that we can work together to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are protected and respected in all 57 OSCE participating States.
An equal seat at the table where citizens can make their voices heard
The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is remarkable not only for its size and scope, but also for its openness. Ordinary citizens, represented by civil society and NGOs, have an equal seat at the table – with the opportunity to hold governments to account for gaps between their words and deeds and suggest fresh solutions for the future in a multinational forum.
That’s particularly important for civil society activists and organizations that are pressured and persecuted by their governments at home – HDIM is a chance for them to speak uncensored, making their voices heard while the broader OSCE community looks on. With space for civil society shrinking and human rights activists facing pressure in an alarming number of countries across the OSCE region, the opportunity to hear from those whose fundamental freedoms and universal rights are under threat is more important now than ever.
The OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2016 will take place in Warsaw, Poland, from September 19th to 30th. Visit www.osce.org for information on how to take part. The HDIM’s working sessions will be livestreamed here, and you can join the discussion on social media at #HDIM2016.