Combating impunity in the 21st century
In 2006, Thomas Lubanga was the first person to be convicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. For the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the international community has sent a clear, decisive and unified message that safeguarding human life and dignity remains a primary objective of the democratic world, and that massive violations of human rights human rights can and will be punished by force of law.
However, since this historic decision, massive human rights violations blatantly continue in many parts of the world. Ethnic and religious minorities suffer genocidal attacks, non-combatants are executed and tortured, journalists are targeted, dissidents imprisoned and, in short, all kinds of discrimination are carried out at the expense of citizens.
At the same time, impunity reigns among the powerful, who find immunity from the crimes they commit, which are spreading more and more. Today, some 40,000 non-combatants lose their lives each year, while in the past four years alone, an estimated 80 million people have been forced from their homes to avoid the violence of war and the despotism of the diets.
The collective effort of the Western world to anchor democracy and protect human rights beyond its immediate reach has often been insufficient. Yet the ability to defend human rights abroad presupposes their strengthening and deepening at home.
IIn the aftermath of World War II, the leaders of the free and democratic world succeeded in laying the foundations for a period of stability, peace, democracy and growth while consolidating human rights and justice and state freedoms.
In recent years, however, multiple crises and the radical rise of nationalism and populism in various forms have been a direct challenge to global democracy, undermining the post-war democratic order and international cooperation. Alliances have been vitiated and trade rivalries have intensified. Former US President Donald Trump has chosen to pursue a foreign policy based on trade considerations, putting values and human rights on the back burner.
President Joe Biden intends to restore fundamental democratic values and the international institutional order, while taking initiatives for collective action against new threats. As he said, nothing less than the validity of democracy at the 21st century is at stake.
But for our democracy to be useful and effective, it requires that it promote the collective global action and understanding that our times demand, so that human rights violations can be eliminated as much as possible.
During my last term as European Commissioner for Migration, Internal Security and Nationality, the protection of rights – in particular those of vulnerable social groups – was at the heart of my policy. It also defined the system of rights and principles that I served on behalf of the European Union.
Today, in my new parallel position as a member of the board of directors of the international organization Fight Impunity, I continue this task, alongside renowned personalities from around the world, contributing to the global project to fight effectively against massive human rights violations. Our common goal is to end violence, injustice and all forms of discrimination. It is about providing nations and societies with the principles of harmonious coexistence, freedom, democracy, justice and equal opportunities.
To achieve these goals, however, global cooperation is needed. It is true that we cannot deal effectively with dangers if our efforts are fragmented. Fragmentation makes us all vulnerable. It has been a hard lesson the world has had to learn in recent years, especially in dealing with the multiple crises plaguing the global community.
No single nation or organization can tackle the emerging challenges in Europe or the United States on its own, but especially in areas where impunity is a real scourge.
States, organizations and businesses must all contribute to the collective effort to decisively combat crimes against humanity and massive human rights violations while respecting the demand that perpetrators are called upon to render. of accounts, a requirement which is the main pillar of international justice.
We must jointly develop a consensual approach against impunity. We must also coordinate a targeted action plan involving all interested parties in the direction of the establishment of investigative and control mechanisms.
Creating more peaceful, secure and inclusive societies presupposes a strong international system based on international law, principles, rules and cooperation.
International law and international justice, with their principles and organs, are the guardian angels of peaceful coexistence as well as the main instruments of international cooperation. They are the codification of ethics and of practical relations between nations. They constitute the system of values that guides our collective efforts to eliminate impunity for those who have committed crimes against humanity, human dignity and democracy.
It is this mission, comprising a web of activities and initiatives, that the international organization Fight Impunity has undertaken, and which is there to meet the present and future needs of the global community of citizens.