In many ways, these are frustrating and sad times for human rights in Europe. At the same time, however, I am encouraged to see Liberties continue to emerge as a major actor in influencing human rights in Europe. But in order to fully execute our mission, we need the support of you and your friends.
A few days ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Initially, the Declaration was not seen as a particularly significant treaty, but it quickly became a key source for building more democratic societies.
Today again we need that kind of inspiration. It seems that in Europe fewer and fewer people remember the real reasons why the European Union was created (it was first and foremost about peace-building and conflict-prevention). We tend to forget how incredibly lucky we are here in the EU, and more and more people seem to deny that solidarity and tolerance, together with respect for human rights, should play a central role in the European project.
That inspiration won’t come from a new international treaty, nor will it be successful as a top-down effort. But it should – and could – come from the bottom. From people who recognise that hate only begets more hate; from activists who are fighting for more just and open societies; and from people who, seeing the worrying political trends in multiple EU countries, raise their voices. It doesn’t matter how you are supporting the fight for human rights, whether it be financial support or volunteer work or social media activities – all of these matters. The most important thing, however, is to recognise that no positive changes will happen without your involvement. So instead of just wishing you a great year for 2019, let me also ask you this: what are you going to do for your rights?