2019-08-19 › OSCE PA human rights leaders celebrate World Humanitarian Day
COPENHAGEN, 19 August 2019 – Marking World Humanitarian Day, which this year is dedicated to honoring the work of women, the leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions today highlighted women’s contributions to promoting human rights in the OSCE area.
Committee Chair Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus) stressed that the defence of women’s rights must be prioritized in the foreign policies of OSCE participating States, noting positive examples in countries including Canada, France and Switzerland, which have linked humanitarian aid to gender equality, implemented new measures to fight sexual violence and sexual harassment, and promoted gender-based foreign policies.
“Following struggles of activists for women’s rights, some OSCE countries have made important progress in advancing gender equality, both within their own societies and by prioritizing women’s issues in their foreign policies,” said Hadjiyianni. “Today, I want to salute these women leaders and honor their work by calling for additional progress to be made toward gender equality and stronger humanitarian responses to the challenges facing our region.”
He also highlighted violence against women, particularly in conflict zones, as a problem that must be addressed. “In wars and military occupations, women are often exploited. The abuse and rape of women by armies and paramilitary organizations cause fear and panic in order to achieve military and political victories or other purposes. We strongly condemn these practices and urge OSCE participating States to effectively combat such horrific acts,” he said.
Committee Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (Germany) focused on the work done by women to abolish the death penalty, including in the two OSCE participating States that still carry out executions – Belarus and the United States.
“On World Humanitarian Day, I call for a renewed commitment towards abolishing the death penalty, which has been shown to be both ineffective as a deterrent and a violation of human rights,” Link said. “I regret that after decades of progress rolling back the use of capital punishment in the United States, the current administration is reportedly moving ahead with plans to resume executions after a 16-year moratorium at the federal level.”
He urged the U.S. to reconsider this move, pointing to the many calls by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for the abolition of the death penalty in the OSCE area. (See, inter alia, the Resolution on Abolition of the Death Penalty adopted at the 2017 Annual Session in Minsk.)
Committee Rapporteur Susana Amador (Portugal) said: “Today’s World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to celebrate the work of women as humanitarian leaders, voices of conscience, facilitators of dialogue and peace, and agents of change. Whether the issue is prevention of conflicts, migration, the rights of children or the humanitarian situation in conflict zones such as eastern Ukraine, women are working on front lines in their own communities and are often risking their own lives to help others. Today we salute these unsung heroes.”