On 19 September I took advantage of being in Warsaw to meet with the famous Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. This was not an official EESC mission, however, sharing the work of both institutions was extremely beneficial towards future cooperation.
The Helsinki Committee in Poland was organized during the period of martial law (1982) by a group of intellectuals. It was an underground organization that developed a network of associates all over the country. In 1983, the Committee prepared its first report - Poland under Martial Law.
Currently, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) is one of the most experienced and professional non-governmental organizations involved in the protection of human rights in Europe. It is active both in Poland and abroad (chiefly in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, the Caucasus and Central Asia).
Their mission is to promote the development of a culture based on the respect of freedom and human rights in Poland and abroad. Since 2007, they hold consultancy status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is also a member of the Human Rights Network, an international coalition consisting of non-governmental organizations from Norway, the United Kingdom, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kenya and Uganda, among other countries.
During our visit we met with Danuta Przywara, the President of the Foundation and Adam Bodnar, the Vice President.
It was a 2 hour meeting where the history of the Foundation in Poland was shared and I explained the context of the work of the EESC and especially our focus on human rights in the context of external relations and our work on EIDHR. Particularly on the subjects of EIDHR and Tibet as Adam Bodnar is highly respected for his work on Tibet and human rights issues associated with Tibetans. We discussed The Middle Way Approach and proactive measures to support dialogue.
The conversation was very productive and we hope for further collaboration in the future especially in terms of EIHDR recommendations and project proposals for the Caucasus region.
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Thank you for this great opportunity to introduce the EESC’s work on human rights and development in Europe and outside its borders.