Before the official opening of the Berlin Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday 21st of June the Human Rights Committee of Liberal International was able to make a study visit to the Federal Commission for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR.
After travelling to the outskirts of former GDR East Berlin we arrived at an enormous complex of buildings in communist style.
In one of the thousands of office rooms we were welcomed by the Stasi Archives Commissioner Roland Jahn.
Markus Löning the Honorary Chairman of the LI Human Rights Committee explained who we were, and Commissioner Roland Jahn gave a very accurate and gruesome explanation of how nearly all East German citizens were registered and daily actions were secretly described and kept in the GDR State Security Service system.
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After the fall of the communist regime the people of GDR were shocked to realize and hear that so many of their neighbors, friends or family were spying on each other! Of course, there are no such records made up of citizens nowadays. The Commissioner and his office are now helping people to find out if they or their family members have been spied on in the GDR. And many still come to the Stasi Archives to see what was written about them and what is kept in the precisely administered Stasi Archives.
A frightening idea of how it must have felt to be a citizen in such a communist totalitarian system. Very good to realize how such a regime treated its citizens.
|Roland Jahn took this photo of Margaret de Vos between thousands of historic files full of detailed descriptions of innocent citizens.||Jayanthi Balaguru listens contemplating the horrific way people were followed and treated in the German Democratic Republic!|
The Committee meeting gave us many discussions about climate change. What is the Liberal response to the Paris Agreement of Delivering Climate justice? The INLW former deputy -president Hakima El Haiti gave an inspiring speech about the importance of climate change and the effects for people all over the world.
Climate change touches everyone and it has a lot of influence on the economy. Certainly, when parts of the world sustain severe periods of drought. Many countries especially in Africa have a lack of means if they get drought and thus no crop. Young women are very vulnerable for these effects. Often, they can no longer go to school because all must work and help to get water from elsewhere. These climate problems make people want to migrate. These problems must be solved. In 2015 the world agreed on acting on this problem. The sustainable agenda and the Paris agreement were agreed on by nearly all countries.
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The change is foremost a mindset problem. More education is one of the important issues. Politicians cannot do this alone, they must work together and make green investments and adjust education to make people more aware of these developments. Governments, political parties and the UN must make this change together. Climate change and human rights, peace and security are all linked. Although the USA is not agreeable to this issue, we do still see that some of the states such as California are agreeing to the Paris Agreement and working on it.
Europe must work on it not only because it is so important for the next generation but also Europe doesn’t want all the migration coming its way so education, health care and transport must be worked on in the migration countries. For the politicians the problem is that some, mostly populists, go on saying that there is no climate change as for example president Trump says. Another problem with the populist movements is that everyone wants to be heard and needs results. Populists are using that in their attitude to the electorate. So, politicians must have enough evidence and solid explanations must be given to change political attitudes. Climate change and the attitude to this is all about equality for the world at large and thus climate justice for all.
Another interesting meeting was about Democracy.
The statement was that democracy is a process. This process can be stopped. Despite the many attacks on democracy Europe is still going and as former president Obama said: The Europe Union is successful and still there after 70 years. An intergovernmental issue is migration. Many populists are choosing nationalism as the best solution for any problem. They tend to say that they want change and are anti-establishment but, they want to establish their own establishment. We must show that the Europe Union is still a very good and solid partnership. We are stronger together and now you can see that leaving the EU is not so easy and will give many economic and other problems. With all the European countries we must go on fighting for freedom, prosperity and a good balance between human rights and responsibility. Europe is a part of the world with many possibilities: good laws, social inclusion, freedom of speech and the possibilities to make your own choices. We must go on fighting for: human rights, freedom and rule of law all over the world.
Of course, there were some nice visits to make as well.
Members of INLW Board: Ruth Richardson, Margaret de Vos, Jayanhti Devi Balaguru, Lysbeth van Valkenburg and Maysing Yang were all present in Berlin.
INLW Board members Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and Lysbeth van Valkenburg attended the 199th LI ExCom in Johannesburg.
This year the theme of this LI Executive Committee meeting was “Good Governance”. The theme was explored with discussions on “Results of Better governance on different fields of government” and the influence of that on Local and Global Challenges for the 21st Century.
Our host was the Democratic Alliance (DA) and they had taken upon them to produce a draft for a new Johannesburg Declaration. This declaration was discussed and adopted during the last session of the meeting.
The DA was founded in 2000 although its roots go back much longer. DA is supported by liberals to the right and left depending on the subject. DA is in power in 33 cities now, among them Cape town, Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Johannesburg. In 2018 there will be Presidential elections. President Jacob Zuma will have had two terms by then. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has started to present DA as an alternative for the ANC. In the beginning of 2018 Maimane will have to be re-elected and as such will be the DA candidate for President during the next elections, where he will hopefully be seen as an alternative for the ANC candidate.
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Our other host was the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). FNF works throughout the world in over 50 countries to promote human rights, the rule of law, democracy and the principle of a free market economy. The Foundation has been in Africa since 1963, and has its Sub-Saharan African headquarters in Johannesburg.
For us INLW, it was also interesting to meet members of DAWN, Democratic Alliance Women’s Network. DAWN seeks to address the core issues affecting women and aims to empower women and create a society where dignity of women is recognized. DAWN seeks to combat and address: Rape and Domestic Violence, Maintenance issues, Responsible Parenting, Economic Empowerment and the Recognition of Women’s Rights as Human Rights by concentrating especially on customary law, constitutional law, patriarchy, tribal law and maintenance of families by fathers. In South Africa the educational changes for girls are still inferior to the education for boys. In the rural area’s apartheid is still feared and violence against women and girls such as rape is a big risk. A woman must leave her house once she becomes a widow. All these elements make it a slow process to make life better and to improve the education possibilities for girls.
On Friday the theme of good governance was discussed. With good governance and the right institutions, a country has the means to develop itself and its people. You can only reach sustainable development by a transparent and trustworthy government. Sustainability, anti-corruption steps, transparency, inclusiveness, rule of law and independent justice will ultimately bring equal opportunities, equal education and equal innovation for a country.
During lunch there was the opportunity to hear the country reports. The Brexit was widely discussed at our table among others with Sal Brinton who is a member of the House of Lords and president of the Liberal Democrats. Brexit will have an enormous impact in Great Britain and Europe.
The discussion in the afternoon panel gave us food for thought about “What is social equality in liberal terms?”
- Equality before the law;
- Guarantee the same opportunities, the same starting point to develop the potential of the individual and second chances.
- Inclusive social security, there must be social securities for all;
- Equal education for all children without discrimination;
During the administrative session of the LI Ex Com INLW’s resolution “More Women in local regional, national and international policy making for Good Governance Worldwide” was adopted. Read on.
Friday evening brought us to Sophiatown the MIX in Johannesburg, a historical black cultural hub that was destroyed under apartheid and then rebuilt. During the event the annual African Freedom Speech and Award Ceremony was held. The Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who spent time in prison for his beliefs, was given the award for his extraordinary contribution to the cause of Freedom in Africa.
On the Saturday morning several visits were paid to important places in Johannesburg such as Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Inner city tour.
The panel discussion in the afternoon was about Better Governance: Liberal Answers to Twenty-First Century Challenges.The panel was with the former Prime Minister of Guinea, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the national leader of AND, Edgard Razafindravahy from Madagascar; the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, Solly Msimanga, Mayor of Tshwane (Pretoria). The discussion was led by our President of LI, Juli Minoves.
For South Africa teaching people in citizenship is important. Too many people need the government, there is too much dependency. Civil society must take the power back from the government and improve the government.
You cannot talk about freedom if you don’t get people to act honestly, there is still too much corruption in this country.
The conclusions were:
Liberal values to be defended, get people to gain control and adapt faster to new developments and show that good governance makes a difference to people’s lives. A big problem is that in SA 60% of the 25% unemployed are youngsters.
Herman Mashaba told us that in his position he tries to work on the corruption, don’t tell lies, get children educated and transform the townships into suburbs with nice tree lined streets and parks. There is a lot to do for any government in SA.
We finished the Executive Meeting with the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration.
At the closure of the meeting on Saturday evening the Mayor of Midvaal hosted us in Restaurant Moyo in Johannesburg where we had an authentic African experience, inspired by traditions and values from across the African continent.
The Liberal International Human Rights Committee met inThe Hague during an event organized by the Thematic International Network of the VVD and INLW.
Chairman of Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC), Mr. Markus Loening gave us some up-dates and insight in the work of the Human Rights committee.
The next day President INLW Margaret de Vos took part in the LI HRC meeting at the VVD office. The importance was stressed of the role that the LI HRC can play if a party cannot speak out about a situation in their own country, then LI HRC might be able to speak out about the problem. LI will organize a parallel event at UN CSW 62 in New York together with INLW.
Then there was a panel discussion about “The Future of the International Liberal Order: How can we make international justice work?
Chair during the event was -Mr. Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament and ALDE Party Vice-President (MRF, Bulgaria)
-Steven van Hoogstraten, CEO, Hague Institute for Global Justice
-Lousewies Van der Laan, Member of the European Parliament (1999-2003); Chief of Cabinet to the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (2009-2015) (Democrats 66, The Netherlands)
-Hon. Kiat Sitteeamorn, Secretary-General of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
After the discussion we went to the Panorama Mesdag museum in The Hague where the LI Prize for Freedom was awarded. The prize was given to Ilham Tohti who is now imprisoned. Mr. Tohti has fought for democracy and Rule of law in China and the human rights of Ughurs. He campaigned for promoting conciliation between Ughurs and Han Chinese.
Ilham Tohti’s daughter, Jewher Ilham, spoke to us by video. She said that the award offers encouragement for human rights defenders in China amid increasing pressure on activists.
The Liberal Prize of freedom is Liberal International’s oldest award, it is presented annually to courageous human rights champions since 1985. Professor Ilham is the first-ever recipient of the LI Prize from mainland China.
Speeches were given by:
-Mr Hans van Baalen, Honary President of LI
-Mr. Markus Loening, LI HRC Chair and ALDE Party Vice-President
-Ms. Marie Holzman, Co-Founder of the Ilham Tohti Initiative Advancing and promoting international justice through LI Human Rights Committee
-Steven Mokgalapa, President of the Africa Liberal Network and Member of LI Human Rights Committee (Democratic Alliance, South Africa)
In the afternoon a visit was paid to the International Criminal Court where Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court (Argentina)
received us and gave us her views on “Strengthening Global Justice and the Rule of Law: The International Criminal Court and Beyond”.
In the past INLW called upon the International Society to bring ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to Justice in The Hague at the then just founded ICC. This was after soldiers obeying the ex President’s call to keep him in power, had opened fire on a peaceful women’s march killing several women who were walking up front. INLW’s Vice President Kaba Fofana from Ivory Coast sent us a message about this. She said: “Tomorrow I will join in the march to lead my friends”. “Please tell the people if I don’t return, I did everything for the cause of Freedom, Democracy and Liberalism”. Thank goodness all went well the second day! It was interesting to see that the case against Mr Gbagbo is indeed still being continued. The many witnesses are still being heard at the ICC.
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
President of INLW Treasurer INLW and president of INLW Nederland
Many members of INLW including members of the Board attended the 70th Congress of LI in Andorra. Present were, Mireia Huerta, Silvia Flury (both left on Friday), Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk, Khadija El Morabit, Joaquima Alemany, Maysing Yang (who all left on Saturday morning), Ruth Richardson and Lysbeth van Valkenburg who both stayed till the end of the Congress.
The main theme was the Liberal Manifesto 2017. During the past year the new LI Manifesto was written under the chairmanship of Professor Karl-Heinz Paqué, Deputy Chairman of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. INLW contributed at several moments during the past 1 ½ year to the content of the text.
On the first evening, there was a dinner hosted by the Catalan Group of Liberal International, where we could do a lot of networking.
On Thursday afternoon, Margaret de Vos and Khadija El Morabit participated at the meeting of Regional organizations, such as ALDE party, the Arab Liberal Federation (ALF), the African Liberal Network (ALN) and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and Red Liberal de América de América Latino (Relial), where we suggested that there should be more cooperation between for instance INLW and the different regional liberal federations. It was decided to follow this up. The first action thereto will be that Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk will attend the next CALD women’s Caucus Congress in Taipei in August 2017.
The members to be elected for the LI Bureau gave their introductions in the morning, among the candidates was our Deputy President Hakima El Haité. She gave an inspiring and clear speech on the position of Liberal International; the importance of the Environment for our future and the actions we have to take as Liberals!
During the Friday afternoon, the final discussion was held about the Manifesto and its local perspective. Also, the proposed amendments to the Resolutions were discussed in working groups. The INLW resolutions were amended and adopted to be accepted in the General Meeting on Saturday.
In the evening, the Group paid a visit to the Andorran Parliament, the Casa de la Vall, which is the historic “Old Parliament House” as well the new modern Andorran Parliament building (2014). Welcoming remarks were given by the President of the Andorran Parliament, Mr Zamora, Josep Forné, MP, President of the Andorran Liberal Parliamentary Group and Mrs. Carine Montaner, MP. We were given a charming performance of a Andorran dancing group.
On Saturday during the day several working sessions were held on “Liberalism in the 21st century”; “How to make liberals win again” and “Migration and Economic integration: How to open borders”.
In the afternoon, the Congress was closed with the adoption of the historic Liberal Manifesto with the signing ceremony of the LI Manifesto! INLW was represented on stage by the Treasurer Lysbeth van Valkenburg.
The farewell dinner was hosted by the Liberal Party of Andorra with a desert of an enormous 70th Birthday cake!
Hans Juli Hakima El
v. Baalen Minoves Haité
Resolution number: 03
Title: Child Abuse
Submitted by: INLW (International Network of Liberal Women)
The Congress of Liberal International, convened in Andorra, on 20 May 2017
World Health Organization (WHO), distinguishes four types of child maltreatment: physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation
Child abuse can result in immediate adverse physical effects but it is also strongly associated with developmental problems and with many chronic physical and psychological effects, including
subsequent ill-health, including higher rates of chronic conditions, high-risk health behaviours and shortened lifespan.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), of which Article 19 calls on all political parties to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious life-long consequences
Despite recent national surveys in several low- and middle-income countries, data from many countries are still lacking
Worldwide because Child abuse occurs irrespective of gender, social standing, ethnicity, or religion. International child abuse statistics are difficult to come by due to the difficulty in keeping track of numbers and the hidden nature of some forms of abuse even in “financially sound” countries. Even though many countries keep no or inadequate records, politics are not doing enough. This is why we must raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children and rid society of abuse permanently.
Worldwide… because violence against children takes many forms, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and may involve neglect or deprivation. Violence occurs in many settings, including the home, school, community and over the Internet.
Worldwide…because thousands or refugee children are being abused exploited and arbitrarily detained.
Worldwide…because in many countries children are used as target for emotional abuse and of neglect. Is known that child abuse happens constantly in war zones, in schools and in child marketing.
Worldwide…because child abuse happens in advertising, the food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to sickness or even death
The nature of international communication means that abuse occurs across international borders.
Calls on upon member parties and other liberal organizations to urge their governments around the world to bring this issue to attention: Raise the alert and protect our future generations from ritual and sexual abuse.
Pay special attention to and raise the awareness of child abuse in war zones.
Draw attention to child abuse in schools.
Let political parties intervene and put an end to inappropriate marketing to children
Draw attention to children used as targets such as in Europe, Syria, Iraq, Africa and other countries.
Non-profit agencies should work together in seeking funding that supports preventive effort.
Partner with national experts who can collect data to build the evidence base. Make use of data to demonstrate the need for increased funding for prevention programs.
Political parties to focus on the issue “child abuse” and keep it on the political agenda. WHO’s and International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) Campaign on preventing child maltreatment.
Ensaf Haldar, the wife of jailed Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi and President of the Raif Badawi Foundation, has been presented with the 2016 Liberal International Prize for Freedom on behalf of her husband at a special ceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels. Our President, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk, and vice president, Khadija El Morabit, were both present on this occasion.
INLW was represented at the Meeting by Joaquima Alemany (Past President), Khadija El Morabit (Vice President for MENA region), Lysbeth van Valkenburg (Treasurer) and Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President).
On Thursday afternoon, we kicked off with the discussion on the importance of working together between political parties, NGO’s and Networks in different regions. Within Liberal International we distinguish different regional liberal networks like CALD (Asian liberal Parties) ALDE (European Liberal parties) Relial (Latin American), ALN (African Liberal Network), ALF (Arabic Liberals) and Libseen (East European).