Massimino Delivers Keynote Address to OSCE

Warsaw, Poland – Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino today delivered remarks before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during the Human Dimension Implementation meeting. In her keynote address, Massimino called on the United States and governments around the world to address threats to peace and security while upholding human rights.

“I wish I could report that governments and political leaders are responding to these challenges with boldness, intelligence, and imagination,” Massimino noted. “But too many leaders are undermining the very principles that make for healthy societies – freedom of religion, assembly, and expression; protection of refugees; due process and the rule of law; and a vibrant civil society.”

Massimino’s address comes days before President Obama is slated to speak before the U.N. General Assembly and chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Conference to discuss global efforts to curb the threat of terrorism. Massimino today called on countries to refrain from using counterterrorism strategies that rely too heavily on force, which invariably lead to human rights abuses and exacerbate the conditions that give rise to terrorism in the first place.

“I am not naïve about the threat of terrorism; it is serious, and it presents its own challenge to human rights,” said Massimino. “But unless governments couple their resolve to meet these threats with an equal resolve to ground those efforts in respect for rights and freedoms, we will all lose. Counterterrorism efforts – whether well-intended or veiled executive power grabs – that are unmoored from human rights tend to weaken democracies, strengthen autocracies, and perpetuate the conditions from which terrorist movements draw their strengths.”

In her comments, Massimino also spoke about the rise of extremist parties in Europe, many of which are violently antisemitic. A number of representatives of these parties from across Europe won election to the European Parliament in May. Human Rights First experts recently visited Hungary and Greece, where they researched the rise and political success of violent ultranationalist antisemitic parties, including Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. This informed recommendations in Human Rights First’s report “We’re Not Nazis, but…  The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.”


Published on September 22, 2014


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