August 12, 2020

From the Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System

By Tereza Neuwirthová.

On July 1st, the Modern Diplomacy, International Institute IFIMES along with the world’s renowned Diplomatic Academy Wien and two other partner organisations –Culture for Peace and Academic Journal European Perspectives– organised a one-day conference on the topic of the European past and present in the context of its values, system, as well as challenges.

The conference entailed discussions with over 20 panelists from around the world, including international guests such as Dr. Heinz Fischer, Austrian President (a.D) and current co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon center, the European Commission Vice-President Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Mr. Donald J. Johnston, the former Secretary-General of the OECD and Canadian Economy minister (under PM Trudeau), as well as current OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorites, Mr. Lamberto Zannier. 

This conference held at the FestSaal of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna was a sui genesis event that linked the world’s leading experts and policy-makers from a number of areas related to European security, history, and politics, many of whom were situated around the world, spanning from Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy and the USA, to the conference’s venue. Not only was this day-long conference one of the few happenings that were held after the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic, but the event was likewise streamed online, which enabled many more interested audiences to benefit from the extraordinary opportunity that this conference represented. 

In three panel discussions that were held over the course of the day, some of the most important aspects of the current European order were deliberated by the speakers. The topic of the  first panel was “The WWII legacy –Nurnberg and Tokyo trials as a direct inspiration for the Universal and European Human Rights Charter, Antifascism as the European confidence building block, mutual trust and good neighbourly relation.” 

In this discussion, moderated by the Academy Professor Anis Bajrektareric, the panellists voiced their views on the main values of the 75 years old EU system, namely collective security and human rights. The contributions to the panel included established guests such as 

Mr. Werner Fasslabend, former Defence Minister, who located the aforementioned aspects into the context of the Balkan region. The second speaker, Mr. Steve Clemons who is Editor-at-Large of the Washington-based Hill, reflected on the Euro-Atlantic relations. Furthemore, the worlds leading expert on human rights and Political science professor Emeritus Mr. Anton Pelinka, stressed that the future of Europe depends on how it learns from the WWII legacy. NextMr. Manfred Nowak from the Campus of Human Rights of the University of Vienna compared the European and United Nations’ perspectives on human rights. Mr. Zeno Leoni, Professor at the King’s College London and Defence Academy of the UK,  spoke on the need of a long-term strategy that Europe needs to devise in light of the pandemic-caused disruption. Lastly, Mr. Thomas Stelzer, the Dean of the International Anti-CorruptionAcademy reflected on the threats to the established European principles from a practical perspective. 

The second panel focused on the topic “Europe: From Culture for Peace to Culture of Peace – culture, science, arts, sports.” The panellists were experts from the fields of arts and sports, namely   MrIan Banerjee, Urban Futurist from Vienna University of Technology, who provided an interesting outlook on the interplay of digitalisation and culture leading to peace. Next, joining via zoom from Australia spoke MsLizzie O’Shea, Human Rights lawyer who likewise spoke on the topic of Europe as a culture of and for peace an idea operating in digital environment as well.                             

From the conference’s venue conveyed her contribution MsMiriam Schreinzer, from the Regional Music Advisory Board in Vienna, in which she spoke about the unifying potential of music for the European future.  The last panellist, Ms. Hande Saglam, from the Music University Vienna elucidated the topic of her research, namely the importance of music for the diversity and minority cultures in Austria. 

Following this panel was a short intervention by  Mr. Lawrence Gimeno, the founder of the largest Sports platform of Central Europe,  as well as Ms. Anastasia Lemberg-Lvova, an Artist from Estonia, both of which shared their paths to the respective fields –sports and art–with which they engage on a professional level. 

The last panel of the conference revolved around the European future, with the title “Future to Europe: Is there any alternative to universal and pan-European Multilateralism? Revisiting and recalibrating the Euro-MED and cross-continental affairs.”

The panel was moderated by Ms. Katrin Harvey from the Ban Ki-moon Centre, and saw the contributions of panellists conveyed via online contributions, as well as directly from the conference’s location. The first guest discussing at this panel was Mr. Lamberto Zannier, former OSCE Secretary General, and incumbent High Commissioner on National Minorites, who shared his views on the importance of integration and cooperation within multilateral frameworks. 

The second input to the discussion about Europe’s future was granted by the speech of Mr. Donald James Johnston, former Canada’s Minister and OECD Secretary General, who voiced that “a strong, and unified Europe is the only one that can strengthen the world multilateral order.” Mr. Franz Fischler, the President of the European Alpbach Forumexpressed the belief that “it is crucial to find other approaches to deepen the European integration process for a stable and strong Europe.” Joining the conference online, Mr. Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean spoke on the necessity of the European Union to revise its relations with the countries of its southern neighbourhood, a major determinant of the EU’s future direction and developments. The third panel of the conference was concluded with the contribution by Mr. Mario Holzner, Director-General of WIIW Austria. According to Mr. Holzer, the successful future of Europe lies in pan-European projects that would enhance the integration and cooperation among the countries of this continent.  

 The programme of the conference was concluded with an official communiqué of the conference, which called upon the active initiative of all the engaged, so as to turn this conference into a meaningful process that would strengthen the potential of Europe’s successful future: 

The four partnering organisers and their associated partners are calling upon all willing, engaged and concerned to join in turning this periodic event into a process – tentatively named as Vienna Process: Common Future – One Europe.

The first follow up of the Vienna Process is scheduled for the end of September 2020 – as to honour the Process and to mark the 75th anniversary of San Francisco conference and the creation of Universal organisation of the UN, too.”

This one-day conference at Vienna’s Diplomatic Academy was arranged with the culinary breaks provided by a Viennese gasthaus that served traditional dishes and drinks of the Austrian cuisine. The programme of this event was closed with a mini by the world’s best hurdy-gurdy performer, Mr. Matthias Loibner and accompanying vocalist, professor of the Music University Vienna, Ms. Natasa Mirkovic, who created a convivial atmosphere greatly enjoyed by the guests as well as attendees of the conference. 

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In the picture members of Panel I – while listening the Guest from Washington via Zoom.

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