On 10 December, the traditional annual National Forum on Human Rights (NFHR) will be held in Lithuania. The event, which takes place on Human Rights Day every year, has been moved online this year due to the lockdown measures imposed in the country.
This year’s forum is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The convention, adopted in 1950, has created one of the most effective and advanced international systems of human rights protection which is based on respect of diversity and human dignity. Lithuania joined the Convention in 1995. The country, which had recently regained independence, had to ensure its national laws were compatible with the high standards of human rights protection set by the Convention. Joining this system also provided the opportunity for the people of Lithuania to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that numerous human rights violations have been committed, and Lithuania was obligated to change its legal acts and compensate the damages incurred.
The motto of this year’s event is “Endorsing diverse Lithuania in Europe”. “Society is like a kaleidoscope, where the differences make up a perfect harmony. Welfare means different things to different social groups, therefore it is the duty of the modern state to ensure welfare to persons of different nationalities, faiths, genders, ages, races, social statuses, beliefs and convictions. There are many diversities – of people, opinions, religions etc. – and all of them must be protected in accordance with the highest international standards”, the organisers explain.
One of the plenary discussions of the event, the place of human rights in Lithuanian politics will be discussed. The anniversary of the Convention marked this year is a perfect opportunity to not only assess the importance of this advanced agreement, but also to discuss how successful Lithuania is in keeping its international commitments in various areas of human rights. Unfortunately, experts note that in Lithuania human rights often end up on the margins of the political agenda; they do not receive enough attention in the political parties’ programmes either.
A broad range of other topics will be presented at the event: the impact of the pandemic on the public mental health and education, the fathers’ involvement in children’s early development, effective response to hate crime, human rights violations in Belarus, gender equality, data protection, the right to privacy, and other issues.
The NFHR is a unique event which unites the academia, the public and private sectors, and hundreds of participants. Like every year, the event will be attended by experts of various fields who care about human rights issues and their status in Lithuania and the world: journalists, representatives of NGOs, business, education, and culture, psychologists, active public figures, and politicians. Participants include Birutė Sabatauskaitė, Dainius Pūras, Erica Jennings, Rita Miliūtė, Dovilė Filmanavičiūtė, Nerijus Mačiulis, Donatas Puslys, Jonas Ruškus, Milda Ališauskienė, Urtė Neniškytė, Karolis Vyšniauskas, Aidas Puklevičius, Agneta Skardžiuvienė, Edita Žiobienė and others.
Guests from abroad will take part in the forum as well, including Eva Sophia Myers from the University of Southern Denmark, Aleš Gião Hanek from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Emeritus Professor of Lancaster University Law School (UK) Paul Iganski, communication specialist at the Swedish public service broadcaster Seher Yilmaz, and others.
The NFHR’s discussions will also make note of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified in Lithuania a decade ago, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for gender equality, which drew important guidelines for women’s rights protection 25 years ago. A screening of the film Welcome to Chechnya will also be held, followed by a discussion about freedom of speech and curtailment of hatred.
In total, this year’s event is planned to include eighteen discussions on various subjects related to human rights by over a hundred experts of various fields.
The discussions will include translation to Lithuanian sign language and from/to English. The event will be broadcast live on the organizers’ website and the news portal Lrt.lt. Forum program and registration here.