UPDATED UN SITE OF THE INDEPENDENT
my report to the 27th session of the Human Rights
Council A/HRC/27/51 is now online.
release on the adoption of the UN Arms Trade
Treaty on 3 April 2013
Statement to the open-ended working group on the
Human Right to Peace.
INTERVIEW ON THE MANDATE
the human right to peace on first page of OHCHR website on 4-5
The mandate entails a generous synthesis of civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights. The title requires
the expert to be truly independent, keep an open mind, conduct
his/her research objectively and without ideological prejudices,
listen to all sides of an argument and seek the opinion of all
stakeholders, Governments and civil society, consistent with the
et altera pars, and impervious to pressures of self-censorship
and political correctness. The essence of an independent expert
is not merely his/her expertise -- which must be considered
a given -- but the faculty of thinking outside the box, while rigorously
respecting the terms of reference laid down in the resolution
establishing the mandate, and observing the code of conduct
of rapporteurs. The mandate is not intended to duplicate or rehash
existing knowledge, but to offer new impulses, perspectives, emphasis
that advance the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations
-- with intellectual honesty and good faith.
Methodologically a mandate holder should not rely
on templates, but instead listen and remain open to correction,
and avoid being identified with any ideology other than a commitment
to human dignity. He
or she must be and remain free of pressures and/or instructions
from both governmental and non-governmental entities. While an
independent expert inevitably brings with him a certain cultural
and educational predisposition, he must be able to jump
over his own shadow and get at the facts. Naming
and shaming is not always the best solution to violations of human
rights. Far more important is uncovering the root causes of the
violations, such as endemic inequalities, the persistence of privilege
and the culture of violence. Important too is the anthropocentric
approach and the commitment to propose pragmatic solutions and
redress for the victims. The mandate holder must also have the
courage to formulate recommendations that entail more than a "band
require changes of paradigm and mindset. Most importantly, a mandate
holder should have the courage to break the silence about topics
that are being ignored -- not only by States but by the human rights
industry, which has been increasingly influenced by big business
and special interests. He should give impulses and concrete recommendations
to governments and civil society, speak clear language, tear
down pretenses and the double-standards. One thing he must not
be: a guardian of the status quo, a fig leaf for the international
community, so that everybody pretends to have a good conscience
and continue "business as usual".
Mandate holders may draw some inspiration
from Robert Frost's The
Road not Taken:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both ...
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Mandate holders should also remember Horace's Epistles
-- Dimidium facti, qui coepit,
habet: sapere aude, / incipe (I, 2, 40).
Let's get started and then have the courage to use our judgment!
Immanuel Kant also propagated this idea that became key to the
Enlightenment -- just two words: the imperative sapere aude!
23 March -- UN side-event with Baltasar Garzon and
21 March -- General Assembly of PEN Suisse romand
in Lausanne. We elected 3 new members of the Committee -- Alix
Parodi, Heike Fiedler and Bruno Mercier.
20 March -- visit Professor
Yash Tanden in Oxford.
19 March -- conference on internatinal sanctions
regimes in London.
14 March -- glorious skiing in Saas Fee.
-- panels on women in armed conflict and on vulture funds.
8. March -- the yearly miracle reenacts itself:
our tortoise wakes up after 4 and a half months of hibernation
-- skiing in Crozet/lelex, probably last possibility on the Jura,
since it is too low. Next weekend back to Belalp.
6 March -- speak at Panel
on self-determination in room XXI.
March -- Human Rights Film Fesival -- Citizenfour -- and Ed Snowden
live on Skype from Moscow.
4 March -- Michael
Volle sings Schubert's Schwanengesang at
the Grand Theatre.
1 March -- it snows in Naters-Moos.
28 February --
glorious skiing in Belalp. Especially the tunnel piste. A black
that is so wide that it can be taken as a red.
20 February -- UN panel on Camps Ashraf and Liberty.
World Day of Social Justice. Put out a media
February -- lovely performace of Porgy and Bess at the Grand Theatre.
11-12 February -- conference at Carter Centre, Atlanta,
on democracy and elections. Private meeting with President Carte
or initiatives for peace and democracy
10 February -- conference
at Carter Centre on women's role in peacekeeping and violence against
7-10 February -- visiting my brother and his wife
Susan in Pensacola, Florida
February -- no skiing -- snowing all day -- read history instead
-- glorious skiing in Belalp
30 January -- spoke twice at the consultation on
29 January -- Gluck's Opera Iphigène at
the Grand Theatre. Wonderful voices, orchestra, melodies -- ludicrous
28 Janaury -- meeting of my PEN Committee -- très
convivial. AGO has been fixed for Saturday 21 March.
26 January -- again snow over Geneva. The garden
25 January -- 5 hours of glorious skiing at the Col
de la Faucille, half an hour away!
23 January -- 19th Ex Tempore salon -- 60 participants.
22 January -- lectured at Webster University
18 January -- 6 hours skiing in Riederalp/Bettmeralp
-- pure powder -- ane even saw 10 chamois!
January -- piked up 14 see stars from the shore -- now drying in
1 January 2015 -- took a dip in the North Sea at
30. December -- dinner at LaTour.
20 December -- my interview to Zeit Fragen came out
in English in Current
December - Opera at Grand Theatre
16 December -- meet Alix Parodi at Hameau St. Maurice
15 December -- medical -- blood pressure still low,
100 over 60.
14 December -- the english version of my interview
came out in Current
13 December -- conference at the Zentrum Paul Klee
in Bern -- UN and Parliaments, together with Ambassador Anda Filip.
10 December -- all day conference at Future of Human
Rights Forum. Criag Mokhiber was particularly effective.
8-9 December -- Vienna Conference on Humanitarian
Impact of Nuclear Weapons. Here my statement on the urgent need
15 November -- got 10 liters of my slivovitz
November -- swim in Nordwijk on the North Sea -- the warmest 1st
November on record, 17 degrees air temperature, 15 degrees water
temperature and mild winds. Glorious fresh herring to eat!
31 October -- fly to Holland
29 October -- meeting
at US mission to the UN, visit Decolonization Committee, interview
to UN radio, fly back to Geneva.
-- press conference
27 October -- presented
my report to the GA
26 October -- cocktail party at Leonor Sampaio's.
25 October -- ILA panel on new human rights mechanisms
October -- ILA panel on geo-engineering
23 October -- fly to NY arrive at Millennium Hotel
in front of UN -- meet with indigenous.
-- finished the media statement and my presentation of the report
to the GA
18 October -- hike
from Simplonpass to Simplondorf with Carla, Marie and Daniel
17 October -- finished repairing the
Oratoire in Moos --
14 October -- spoke to the IPU 131th assembly
14 October -- Library event, 25 years UN writers.
Daniel de Roulet spoke.
October -- Erskine Lecture at the Hilton in London
October - the new High Commissioner at the meeting of Special procedures
29 Sept. opening to the meeting of Special
Procedures Mandate holders.
28 Sept -- almost a summer day. Cycled around the
Lac de Joux and swam twice in the lake.
27 Sept. -- Carla and I
swim again in Lake Geneva (one last time?) -- under amazingly mild
autumn temperatures -- air 21 degrees, water 18.
26 Sept. -
International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
-- Panel with Ambassador Filip, Director-General Michael Moller
in Room XIV of PN.
25 Sept. -- The Human Rights Council adopts a resolution
extending my mandate until 30 April 2018.
Sept. - Bryn Terfel, the Welsh bass-baritone gave a brilliant recital
at the Grand Theatre. Everything from Schumann to Schubert to Ibert
and the Welsh composers!
4 Sept - Panel with
Colin Archer, Pavel Podvig, Ambassador Filip -- excellent presentations
-- Panel with Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom, chaired by Madeleine
15 September -- Thierry-Daniel
Coulon performed his dramatic monologue "H2O" in
our salon before an audience of PEN and UNSW members.
14 September -- stroll in the Lötschenthal up to
the Schwarzsee, where I had a lovely swim.
13 September -- 6 hour hike from Stalden/Gspon to
Saas Grund/Saas Balen. Spectacular views over the Michabel chain.
12 September -- 50 kilometer cycling tour through
the Goms from Oberwald to Geschinen (jumped in the lake) to Münster,
Niederwald, Ernen, Binn, Lax and back to Brig.
10 September -- dinner with Anne Marie Demmer
and the Andryseks at Prevesin.
10 September -- Presented my third report
to the Human Rights Council. All States and ngo's that took the
floor in the inter-active dialogue were supportive. Alas, some
important States did not comment. The intervention of the International
Peace Bureau was impressive.
4-9 September -- Six glorious days at the
beach in Noordwijk. Swam every day in the North Sea -- which was
19 or 20 degrees. Even got a suntan. In Holland!
3 September -- courses started
at GSD. I met my new history students.
2-3 September -- moderated the OCAPROCE Forum on
August -- Lovely hike next to the Suones of Tennhoh in Oberwallis,
up to the hanging bridge.
30 August -- Schäferwochenende
at Belalp -- some 650 sheep made their way up from the Aletschji
valley, where they had spent the summer grazing, up to the Belalp.
A very bon enfant folks feast typical of the Oberwallis.
22 August -- merry performance of Franz Lehar's
Graf von Luxembourg
20 August -- a glorious production of Rosenkavalier
at the Salzburger Festspiele.
18 August -- visited the Archeological Museum in
Bozen to see "Ötzi" the man from the ice.
14 August -- 25 years ago Sergio Chaves, Leonor Sampaio
and I founded the United Nations Society of Writers. To celebrate
current UNSW writers met at the Press Bar. Here we are 15 members
of the United Nations Society of Writers marking the day of the
launching -- I read excerpts of poems and essays by Leonor and
14 August -- spoke at the Advisory Committe on PEN
International and the Bled Manifesto on Peace.
13 August -- spoke on the panel on Ashraf: The
Right to Peace and the Responsibility to Protect.
August -- Robin Williams has left us at age 63. I will never forget Dead
11 August -- my report to the Human Rights Council
9 August -- wonderful concert in the Church of St.
George in Ernen, Valais. Works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi and
his sister Fanny, Bach chorals and a fascinating piano quintet
by Cesar Frank.
6 August -- next semester I'll be teaching world
history. Here the syllabus.
1-3 August -- Carla and I cycle 240 km from the chalet
back to Geneva. Some lovely swims in various lakes.
27 July -- lovely walk from Rothwald
to Rosswald in the Valais, 7 hours of gorgeous views
25 July -- submitted my
report to the GA
4 - 13 July
- glorious holidays in Noordwijk aan Zee, swimming, picking up
shells on the shore, cycling through the dunes, walking, walking,
walking, visiting churches and museums, reading fiction, not just
official reports and analyses.
3 July - spoke only once at the working group --
did 16 pots of mirabel jam.
2 July - spoke eighteen times in the working group
1 July - spoke three times in the working group
June -- delivered a statement at the open-ended inter-governmental
working group on the right to peace
30 June -- met Matej Jancosek's father -- learned
that he was the valedictorian yesterday
June -- submitted report to Human Rights Council.
24 June -- lovely performance of Alfredo Catalani's
opera "La Wally" at the Grand Theatre.
20-21 June -- drove to Torino to pick up Carla after
the cycling trip with Elizabeth. Lovely "design hotel" Boston,
and superlative food.
20 June - spoke at a UN panel on Iraq and a panel
on women empowerment. Still jet-lagged!
June -- Indigenous Conference in Anchorage Alaska, followed by
visit of villages in the Kenai Peninsula.
3 June -- lecture at Webster University.
29 May - 1 June -- hiking holiday in the Bourgogne,
feeling like a "pilgrim" and arriving all tired and worn at the
wonderful Basilica of Vezelay. Bought some Vonay, Beaune and Pommard
reds, then at la Charité sur Loire took my ritual birthday swim
in the Loire river and bought some wonderful Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre
20-25 May -- a very lyrical Ring des Nibelungen at
the Grand Theatre with a splendid cast and an understandable mise
en scene by Dieter Dorn.
23 May -- workshop of unilateral
23 -- PEN Committee meeting at Montbrillant.
20 -- Easter Sunday at St. Mauritius in Naters, followed by the
opening of the Ort der Begegnung.
April 15-18 April
-- International Association of Democratic Lawyers 18th world congress
at the Vrijeuniversiteit in Brussels. I spoke in three panels and
in the plenary.
- Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Panel with the Chair
of the UN Conference on Disarmament, Michael Möller. Issued
a media statement.
April 2-3 -- conference hosted by Democracy International
at the UN in Vienna. Also met with Andreas Bummel, the secretary-general
of the campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly.
Friday 21 March -- meeting with the secretary general
of the International Peace Bureau, Colin Archer.
Friday 14 March -- Panel at the
UN in room XXI of PN on camps
Ashraf and Liberty, together with Jean Ziegler, Bernard Kuchner
and Linda Chavez. Film and celebration in honour of Theo van Boven,
Director of the UN Division on Human Rights 1977-1982, who did
so much for Latin America and who hired me into the UN in 1980.
I had a lovely chat with him and gave him my interview on the CELAC
declaration of Latin America as zone of peace.
Thursday 13 March -- visit Bent Sörensen and his
wife Inge, both great pioneers in the fight against torture.
Wednesday 11-12 March -- conference at the Danish Institute for
Monday 10 March -- panel on self-determination.
PEN Committee meetring. Fly to Copenhagen.
Saturday 8 March -- International Women's Day. Celebrate
it with Carla on the slopes of Crozet/Lelex. The Astres piste is
as fast and challenging as ever.
Friday 7 March -- Nabucco at
the Grand Theatre. Lovely music, miserable production.
the second tortoise woke up. Washed
her, gave her water and put her under the light. She seems happy
Thursday 6 March -- UN Panel on Women's rights in
armed conflict, and the on-going tragedy of the Central African
5 March -- Ash Wednesday. Memento homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem
Wednesday 5 March -- the first of our two turtles
has woken up from hibernation. What a miracle! Nearly 5 months
without eating or drinking anything at all -- and there she is,
happy and again hungry!
Thursday 13 February -- 69 years ago the Anglo-Americans
carried out the infamous terror attack over the city of Dresden,
a major war crime for which there was, as so
often, total impunity for the perpetrators -- not even the recognition
of the enormity of the event, routinely banalised
by journalists and politicians. It is even more pathetic how political
historians are intent to reduce the number of civilian victims
(after all, they were "the enemy"), proving how little
these apologists understand of human dignity -- and of history.
More figure skating at Sochi. the 19 year old Japanese
Yuzuru Hanyu was best with 101 points. I liked the Canadian Patrick
Chan, the German Peter Liebers and the American Jeremy Abbott,
who took a bad fall, which looked like it hurt him, but showed
remarkable resilience and stoicism in continuing the performance.
Later, after a conquille St. Jacques dinner, we had lots of excitement
in the house with a bat flying about -- it took me more than half
an hour to persuade him to fly away -- had to open all windows
and doors. I fear that he may have hibernated somewhere in the
house -- and that there may be more where he came from!
12 February -- glorious figure skating at Sochi. Russia's Tatiana
Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took gold, Russia's Ksenia Stolbova
and Fedor Klimov took silver and Germany's Aliona Savchenko and
Robin Szolkowy bronze after the Figure Skating Pairs Free Skating
9 February -- citius,
altius, fortius. Wow
and again wow! The performances at the Sochi Olympics are truly
breathtaking. Is there anything as aesthetic as figure skating?
The Russian couple Elena Ilinykn and Nikita Katsalopov took the
gold, the Americans the silver and th Canadians the bronze. But
all three were divine. So too the Italians and the Japanese who
came in 4th and 5th. The girl boarders did absolutely amazing things,
and the American truly deserved the gold. There is so much talent
out there in the world -- and we are the privileged ones who
can admire it. Awsome!
Saturday 8 February -- meeting of the coordinating
committee of the 3 PEN Swiss Centres in Luzern. It's the turn for
the Presidency of the Centre Suisse romand -- so it's my baby.
(Photo by the President of the Deutschschweizer PEN Zentrum, Michael
Guggenheimer, from left to right Ari Blum, Franca Tiberto, Enzio
Bertola, me and Zeki Ergas)
Friday 7 January -- Opening of the Sochi winter Olympics.
Absolutely otlichno! The ethereal soprano Anna Netrebko
performed the Olympic anthem-- for me that was the best moment
of the evening!
Lectured at GSD in the afternoon: got nice new
students in my masters class on human rights monitoring mechanisms.
Thursday 30 January -- the 33 countries of the Community
of Latin American and Caribbean States concluded its summit in
Havana yesterday and issued a Declaration proclaiming Latin America
and the Caribbean a Zone of Peace. This is a wonderful example
for the world and it will bear fruit.
Wednesday 29 January --It is snowing. I do the induction
for the new students at the Geneva School of Diplomacy.
Tuesday 28 January --
UN panel on freedom of expression in Cambodia, hosted by Article
19 and PEN International. I spoke on the five Special Procedures
mandates that should be engaged to address the multiple violations.
This was followed by Cambodia's UPR before the Human Rights Council.
On Friday 24 January 2014 the United Nations Society
of Writers held its 18th annual salon hosting 61 literature enthusiasts
and 17 readers from the UN, UNCTAD, UNHCR, OHCHR, ILO, PEN Club
and the Société Vaudoise des Ecrivains. Participants
declamed poetry and epigrams in Arabic, English, French, German,
Latin, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Aline Dedeyan performed
her funny sketch "tax evasion". We celebrated the 100th anniversary
of the birth of the American poet William Stafford, and the 150th
anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, who was not only a
superlative composer, conductor and orchestrator but a widely read
intellectual with high literary sensitivity and judgment, who used
the best writers of the day as his librettists, including Hugo
von Hofmannsthal and Stefan Zweig, and put to music poems by Hermann
Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff. Several of our amateur
poets paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and the multiple links between joie
de vivre, diversity, pluralism, freedom of opinion, literature,
culture, mutual respect and peace.
18 January -- Das Hexenrennen at Belalp.
Lovely day of skiing and photographing "witches" in
all sorts of costumes sweeping down the slopes. Our favourite
black piste was closed, but the blacks 2, 3 and 14 were
open and garanteed a glorious adrenalin rush.
December -- Ex
Tempore XXIV is out.
22 December -- oecumenical concert at St. Hipolyte
Church followed by vin chaud
19 December -- Lecture at the Fachhochschule in Zürich
-- some 200 students and targeted questions
-- moderated a panel on new human rights structures at the Future
of Human Rights Forum
5 December -- spoke
at the celebration 20 Years OHCHR
December -- spoke at the presentation of the new book on the Right
3 December -- UN Conference on Business and Human
2 December -- Press Release on Ashraf
1 December: Vacationing in Australia
November -- at the General Assembly of the United Nations Society
of Writers we elected Marko Stanovic as our new President.
31 October -- meeting with Ambassadors of Palestine
and Sri Lanka
October - dinner with Jeanne Mirer, president of the International
Association of Democratic Lawyers
-- panel at the International Peace Institute, reception by Ambassador
John Hirsch, interview for IPI
28 October - presentation of my report to GA and
conference, reception at Amnesty International. Good communiqué
de presse by the UN office.
27 October -- lunch with Professor Finkelstein, dinnner
with Maritza Struyvenberg and family
26 October -- memorial service for Kevin Carlson
in Canaan, Connecticut
25 October -- interview on Amherst Radio
24 October -- UN Day, lecture at Harvard Law School,
hour interview with Professor Noam Chomsky at MIT
October -- Brussels Conference at the European Parliament, moderated
by Jo Leinen MEP (SPD)
8 October -- concertante
performance at Victoria Hall of Ernest Reyer's opera Sigurd,
magnificently sung. What a delight to hear something I did not
even know existed! Must buy the cd!
7 October -- my German interview to Zeit-Fragen has been translated into English and published in Current
6 October -- lovely swim in the North Sea at Noordwijk.
Water temperature around 15 centigrade.
September -- delivered a lecture in French before some 150 students
of the University of Geneva: La promotion d'un ordre international
democratique et equitable: mode d'emploi.
September Conference on the Right of Public Participation at the
Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen. Glorious autumn
17 September panel in room XXIV hosted by the mission
of Ecuador with the participation of the Wikileaks spokesperson
Kristinn Hrafnsson and Julian Assange himself from London on inter-active
video conference. The room was packed to capacity -- in any event
well over 200 in the audience.
13 September, met with the mothers of two murdered
residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Gave an interview to UN radio
12 September, spoke at a panel on women and children
in armed conflict.
11 September, continuation of inter-active
dialogue on my report and concluding
comments. Spoke at a panel
on self-determination. Issued a press release.
10 September, delivered an opening
present my report
to the Council and listened to State reponses and those of 7 ngo's
during the inter-active dialogue.
September -- moderated a UN panel on Human Rights and armed conflict
-- focusing on Syria.
6 September -- watched the Schäferfest in
the village of Mund and in the evening went to a wonderful performance
of Georg Friedrich Händel's opera Alcina in the courtyard of the
Stockalper Schloss in Brig.
5 September -- Carla and I cycled from Oberwald to
Niederwald and swam twice in a secluded mountain lake.
18 August -- exactly ten years ago my boss Sergio
Vieira de Mello was killed in the terrorist blast that destroyed
the OHCHR office in Baghdad. I had spoken with him on a Saturday
afternoon at the Palais Wilson a few weeks before that. Requiescat
6 August -- went to the cemetery. Our son Stefan
would have been 17 years old. God giveth, God taketh away. We count
our blessings and accept destiny as it comes, taking comfort in
Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer: God,
give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be
changed, courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
1 August -- glorious cycling
around Lac des Rousses and Lac de Joux -- 65 km in 6 hours including
- wish I had been in Copacabana for Pope Francis' Mass on World
25 July -- lecture by Noam Chomsky at the University
July -- Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday! Prooooooost!
July -- big family get-together in Noordwijk. hartstikke
July -- Carla's birthday, suitably celebrated at the Le Tour restaurant
of the ter Duin Hotel in Noordwijk.
-- finished the first draft of my report to the General Assembly.
in Egypt. Let's pray for an end to the violence.
2 July -- international law imbroglio with Ed Snowden,
Evo Morales, Austria, France, etc. A whistleblower may be a hero
and serve democracy by demanding accountability and transparency
from governments -- but it is tough going.
30 June -- finally a sunny day. We did the 4-hour
hike up and down the Massaschlucht, crossing the ravine down by
Wassen and then taking the steep climb to Hegdorn at the end..
29 June -- it was cold in
the chalet and we lit the fireplace, drank vin
chaud and watched the rain outside.
June -- Vienna plus 20 celebrations. I participated in the workshop
on the post 2015 development agenda, Carla in the workshop on enforcement
mechanisms and remedies for victims.
- meeting of independent experts and special rapporteurs in Vienna.
27 June - Bejart Ballet in Lausanne to music of Gutav
20 June my interview with
the Future of Human Rights Forum finally came out in internet.
19 June - glorious singing of Dvorak's Rusalka at
the Grand Theatre -- Camilla Nylund was spectacular as Rusalka
and Ladislav Elgr as the Prince. Pity that the mise-en-scene was
banal to bad.
14 June - UN Panel on faith and human rights
7 June - UN panel on Camps Ashraf and Liberty
- consultation of the independent expert on initiatives for a world
court of human rights, held in room VIII of the old Palais de Nations,
the same room used by Eleanor Roosevelt when drafting the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights..
5 June -- side-event on the right to peace.
4 June -- UN panel on women empowerment
31 May- 2 June Venice biennale.
30 May - consultation on international solidarity
with Rapporteur Virginia Dandan, followed by panel on Camp Ashraf
22 May - Our High Commissioner Navy Pillay convened
some of the old hands to a lovely get-together at the Palais Wilson
-- some of us who participated at the 1993 Vienna World Conference
on Human Rights in those happier days of optimism and effervescence
-- what a privilege that was! And what camaraderie! (I am second
from the right)
19 May -- Pentecost Sunday. Veni creator spiritus!
May - Richard Wagner's 200th birthday. Played the wonderful CD
by Loorin Maazel "Tannhäuser
without words" and
then a Bayreuth compilation.
May -- a pure joy! Dustin Hoffman's directing the "Quartet" --
a truly feel-good movie with Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay. You
come out of the cinema singing Rigoletto!
16 May -- very successful consultation on my mandate,
with top participants including Professor Vera Gowlland, Professor
Daniel Thürer, Prof. Harro von Senger -- and the Director
of the Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas
1 May -- Opening of the Geneva book fair. A world of new
and wonderful books. I gave a lecture on Rilke.
Tuesday 30 April - Oranje Boven! Lang leve Koning
Willem Alexander! Vandag is de Troonwisseling! Lang leve de oude
Koningin Beatrix. Welkom Koningin Maxima! Wij trinken natuurlijk
Oranjebitter. Habemus regem.
Monday 29 April - tenor Rolando Villazón sings down Victoria Hall
with an all Verdi program. Lots of bravado without unnecessary
Friday 26 April -- gave an interview on Guantanamo
Latina -- in Spanish.
Wednesday 10 April. The April UN Special came out
and published an article on Ex
Sunday 31 March -- Urbi
et Orbi --
Peace and reconciliation, respect for God's Creation, reject greed
and short-term advantage.
Saturday 23 March -- a year ago I was
appointed Independent Expert by the Human Rights Council -- it
has been an exciting year and I have met splendid people. Meanwhile
my second set of reports for the HRC and General Assembly are in
the pipeline. To celebrate: Carla and I hit the slopes again, this
time in the Monts Jura chain. A remarkably nice day of skiing,
even if the sky was grey. In the evening we had service at the
Chapelle des Crêts and I did the meditation.
Friday 22 March -- to mark World Water Day eight
UN rapporteurs, including myself, issued a press
that water is a human right, not a commodity.
Thursday 21 March
- wonderful performance of Das Rheingold in a mise-en-scene of
Dieter Dorn with an amazing Alberich, John Lundgren, and a very
funny Loge, Corby Welch.
March -- United Nations International Day of Happiness. The UN
Library and Ex
Tempore did a successful poetry reading to conjure up the
good spirits -- we were seven readers before an audience of 32,
followed by a Haiku workshop.
Tuesday 19 March -- feast of St. Joseph -- and the
inaugural Mass of Pope Franciscus in Rome. Very touching homily
-- made me think of the Sermon on the Mount, simple, straight-forward,
Monday 18 March -- snow galore
over Geneva. Winter does not want to go.
Sunday 17 March -- quiet day listening to this young
Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez -- what a wonderful voice for
Saturday 16 March -- the General Assembly of PEN
International Centre Suisse romand (the Pen
Club of the french-speaking Swiss cantons) meeting in Lausanne
elected me as its President. This is my second tour of duty. Time
to draw inspiration from Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Hermann
Hesse, Rainer Maria Rilke, Victor Hugo, Joachim du Bellay, Jose
de Espronceda, Antonio Machado, Gabriel García Marquez (to
name some of my favourites), knowing that literature is definitely
more fun and more invigorating than politics.
Friday 15 March - UN panel on Iraq and
reparation to victims of gross
violations of human rights.
14 March - side-event on Iraq, I spoke on the Security Council
and its mandate under article 24 of the UN Charter. Exchanged views
with Hans-Christoph Graf von Sponeck and Professor Jean Ziegler.
Wednesday 13 March - Habemus
Papam! Viva Franciscus! Sursum corda! As Archbishop of Buenos
Aires he once said with regard to the political leaders of his
country: “Power is born of confidence, not with manipulation,
intimidation or with arrogance". I would add, legitimacy depends
on truth, sincerity and consent of the governed. People matter!
Tuesday 12 March - meeting with working group on
enforced disappearances; meeting with Kofi Annan Foundation.
Monday 11 March - spoke in two side-events at the
Council - on the human right to peace, and on the world constitutional
Sunday 10 March -- the two tortoises woke up (probably
already while I was in the UK) after four and a half months of
hibernation -- looking around, curious as ever. Washed them, gave
them water and dandelion leaves. They seem happy.
Haec dies quam fecit Dominus:
exultemus et laetemur in ea. They are still somewhat groggy. So, in
order to get them going, I am trying Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra on
them -- surely better than Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Saturday 9 March - lecture on my mandate at the University
Friday 8 March - International Women's Day -- introduced
the Danish film "Enemies of Happiness" about women in Afghanistan.
Thursday 7 March - lecture on freedom of expression
at Middlesex University.
Wednesday 6 March -- meeting with the International
Commission of Jurists on possibilities of cooperation on the World
Court project and IBOR's international bill of rights.
5 March -- panel on the death penalty.
4 March -- panel on self-determination.
28 February -- last day of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. We
will miss him. Sursum
corda! Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας.
From the balcony of Castel Gandolfo to the crowds gathered in the
piazza below, his final greeting to the faithful was humble and
profoundly human, in that benevolent style we
have learned to appreciate over the past eight years: "Da
oggi sono solo un pellegrino".
Thursday 28 February -- spoke at two United Nations
panels, one on violence against women, the other on the crisis
affecting the Mujahedin refugees in Camps
Ashraf and Liberty. The
other participants in the high-level panel were Mme Maryam Radjavi, Struan
Stevenson, MEP, Chairman of the
Delegation for relations with Iraq, Taher
Boumedra, Former advisor
to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Iraq – former
chef of the Human Rights section of UNAMI, Sid Ahmed
Ghozali, Former Prime Minister of
Algeria, Anne-Marie Lizin, Honorary President
of the Belgian Senate - Former Special Rapporteur on human rights
and extreme poverty, Michel Joli, Secretary-General of
France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, and Juan
Garces, International lawyer, former
adviser of Chilean president Salvador Allende.
Wednesday 27 February -- the diplomat,
philosopher and human rights activist Sephan Hessel passed away
at the age of 95. I met him years ago and he left an enduring impression.
Tuesday 26 February -- panel on public diplomacy
and international cooperation.
Monday 25 February -- presentation of the new book
of Ambassador Benedict de Tscharner at the Château de Penthes.
Wednesday 20 February -- my oral statement on the human
right to peace,
delivered at the Council, was particularly well received by the
Saturday 16 February. Glorious powder
at the Valais station of Laucheralp in the legendary Lötschenthal.
More than six hours of practically non-stop skiing.
9 February. Superlative skiing at
the French station of Monts Jura, barely 20 minutes away
from the house. And what a view of basin lemanique and
the Salève from
the black piste in Crozet!
On Thursday 7 February I spoke
at the UN open-ended consultation on the human right to peace, focusing
on the justiciability of the various components of the right to
peace and recalling that even economic, social and cultural rights
are now justiciable thanks to the ratification of the Optional
Protocol to ICESCR. Homo faber!
Wednesday 6 February. Panel at the
Palais des Nations on women's empowerment and zero tolerance for
Tuesday 5 February. The Government of Uruguay deposited
the 10th instrument of ratification of the Optional Protocol to
the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights,
which will duly enter into force on 5 May 2013. Finally the justiciability
of economic, social and culural rights is being recognized. We
fought for it when I was a UN staffer, and now it has become a
3 February. Splendid skiing at
the French station Les Houches with a spectacular view of the Mont
Blanc. Wonderful black pistes Kandahar and red Fontaines and Mur
des Epines. Lots of skiiers doing telemark -- an elegant,
but difficult discipline!
January 2013 -- 17th annual Ex
We duly celebrated Robert Burns' 254th birthday, and anticipated
the centennial of the birth of Albert Camus (7 November 1913).
In spite of the icy roads, 65 persons showed up and 15 performed,
including Aline Dedeyan, whose sketch was very original and a
pure delight. Her pianist Peter Cattan and male co-performer
Sebastien Verney were worthy of West End. We borrowed the electronic
piano from the Chapelle des Crêts and the mood was upbeat,
with the audience joining in the singing and clapping. For more
pictures see www.extempore.ch
Janaury - IBOR General Assembly. Bruna Molina President, Kirk Boyd
Secretary, myself as Vice-President and Treasurer a.i.
19 December -- intelligent and intelligible production
of Arthur Honegger's Les
aventures du roi Pausole at
the Grand Theatre. Fine staging and light effects. The mise-en-scène
was done by Robert Sandoz, and the king's daughter, La Blanche
Aline, was beautifully sung and acted by Sophie Angebault.
16 December. Glorious skiing in
Belalp. Pure powder
December -- Human Rights Day. Successful panel and workshop co-organized
by Earth Focus and IBOR.
8 December the
XXIII issue of Ex
Tempore is out.
Shorter than Nr. 22, but very varied and rich.
7 December -- my article in the Netherlands
International Law Review on freedom of opinion and expression, written with my
doctoral student Aurea roldan, is now on-line.
2 November -- notwithstanding
hurricane Sandy that flooded the UN building on the East River--
the special rapporteurs still had the opportunity of presenting
their reports to the General Assembly. Here a picture on Friday
morning, just before the session of the Third Committee opened.
I actually enjoyed presenting my report,
and the States were kind enough with their comments. Here a picture
with the special rapporteur on the protection of human rights while
countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson.
24 October, UN Day, the conseil du personnel
organized a manifestation outside the General Assembly hall, and
the United Nations Society of Writers had a stand with the last
issues of Ex Tempore. USG Jan Eliasson spent some time
at the stand and shared with me some thoughts by Dag Hammarsksjold,
which he repeated in his inspired statement at Victoria Hall
the same evening. Maestro Marek Janowski delighted us with a wonderful
rendition of Anton Bruckner's 4th Symphony.
October issue of En
the flight magazine of Air Canada, has an article on the Geneva
School of Diplomacy with a couple of photos of
myself at the Château de Penthes.
12 October -- wonderful performance of Swan
Lake at the Grand Theâtre by the Chinese National
Balllet Company. Wang Qinin was a particularly convincing Odette/Odile.
Rapporteurs Magdalena Sepúlveda
(extreme poverty),Cephas Lupina (debt) and I put out a
release on the Liikanen report and EU banking reform.
: UN Social Forum in room XX at the Palais des Nations. I spoke
on the panel on democratization on 1 October. Here my oral
statement. Good comments by the ngo community.
The October issue of the UN Special brings my article
25 September -
spoke before activists of UNESCO Extea concerning my mandate and
how to enhance civil society participation..
September -- International Day of Peace. Issued my third press
release. The New York UN
media office also picked it up, and the UN
quotes (only the
16 September -- boat trip to Montreux/Château de
Chillon -- spectacular weather, good swim at the château.
15 September - "Art
en campagne" closing ceremony
in Collex-Bossy. Wrote article for the October issue of the UN
Special concerning this wonderful transfrontier exhibition and
comparing it with the exhibit in Belalp.
14 September -- lectured at Wesbster University,
meetings with the Asian Group and with the East-European Group.
13 September -- meeting with the African Group. Panel
on my mandate.
12 September -- in the morning meeting with the
Western and Other Group. In the afternoon presented my report to
the Human Rights Council. Here the statement,
and the press
Mix & Remix, the cartoonist of the Hebdo weekly
magazine in Switzerland, made this design for me in less than a
At the Council room XX with the Independent Expert
on International Solidarity Virginia Dandan
11 September -- lectured at GSD, meeting with the
Latin American and Caribbean Group. Gave interview on my mandate.
September -- took a swim in the Schwarzsee in Lötschental
-- cold and invigorating.
3 September -- "Boer
zoekt vrouw" op
BVN. Ich kijk praktisch nooit naar televisie. Maar ik vind dit
programma echt leuk.
September was a cold, rainy prematurely autumnal day, perfect to
sit at the fireplace and drink a Gamaret.
to the Human Rights Council is
on the web. I'm scheduled to present it on 12 September.
OUR BERKELEY PROJECT FOR
AN INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS IS UP AND RUNNING
WE ARE ASKING ALL OF YOU TO GO ON THE SITE
READ OUR CONDENSED BILL OF RIGHTS, SIGN
IT AND SHARE
IT WITH FRIENDS.
ULTIMATELY WE ARE AIMING AT AN INTERNATIONAL COURT
OF HUMAN RIGHTS WITH JUDGMENTS THAT WILL BE ENFORCEABLE. PLEASE JOIN
On 16 July my first report to the Human Rights Council
went to the editors and translators. -- Wow, that's a relief!
On 10 July we held an informal
consultation with civil society at the Palais Wilson to brainstorm
on the scope and potential of my UN mandate. I derived good insights
that will be reflected on my report.
The Enlightenment philosopher, novelist,
polemicist, opera composer and citoyen
de Genève Jean
Jacques Rousseau was born on 28 June 1712 at Grand Rue 40 in the
center of the old town of Geneva.
The United Nations Society of Writers marked the 300th anniversary
of his birth with a celebration at the Escargot Bar of the Palais
des Nations, next to the Human Rights Council chamber -- with readings
from the Confessions and the Contrat Social. Was a JJR a precursor
of Henri Dunant and the International Committee of the Red Cross?
His ideas on the notion of the Westphalian state, the nature of
sovereignty, war, the condition of the soldier and prisoner of
war status certainly influenced -- for the better -- the development
of international humanitarian law.
Saturday 7 July was a perfect day for cycling --
thus, bikes on top of the car, drove to the Lac des Rousses in
France, next to the town of La Cure, cycled the 60 km around the
lake of Rousses and the Lac de Joux (Switzerland) and swam in both.
Wednesday 4 July I cooked and bottled 11 liters of jam. Our plum
trees have been generous this year. Now I am harvesting for the
On Tuesday 3 July participated in the panel "Ending
Global Racism" in Room XXV, together with Jan Lönn, Secretary
of the ngo World Against Racism Network. Moderator was Professor
Krishna Ahooja-Patel of Women's International League for Peace
On Monday 2
July lectured in Spanish to the masters students of the Universidad
de La Rioja at the Uni Dufour. Very alert students, clever questions,
The 2012 Geneva Book Fair on 25-29 Apirl was a great
success, this time dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the birth
of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Here a photo at the stand of P.E.N. International,
Centre Suisse romand, with J. Alexis Koutchoumow, Hoang Nguyen,
Claude Krul, myself and Maria Zaki.
My Guantanamo booklet
(lecture at the University of Trier, Institut für Rechtspolitik)
is now on the internet. Nr. 28, ISSN 1616-8828.
On Sunday 25 March, a glorious
spring day with fruit trees blossoming in our garden -- and all
around the countryside, we did our first barbeque of the season.
Life can be so wonderful - if kept simple and genuine. And yet,
nothing stops you from aiming at citius, altius,
fortius -- Κῦδος τοῖς Ὀλυμπίοις!
23 March the President of the Human Rights
Council, Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, appointed me to the new
mandate of Independent
Expert on the Promotion of a democratic and equitable international
The mandate has enormous potential and will
require much reflection. My desire is to be a bridge between North-South,
East-West, and to serve the cause of human rights by advancing
those immanent principles of human dignity and human equality that
make society work. We live in such a beautiful, rich planet that
there is no excuse for extreme poverty, structural violence, needless
conflict and war. Real - not just virtual - democracy can be achieved,
but we must believe in the rule of law, defend it and persevere.
Humanity needs more justice, mutual respect, patience, misericordia.
The mandate was
created by the Council on 29 September 2011. Si vis pacem,
cole justitiam. Nuevos
Derechos del Hombre just put up the
notice on their site. I lisened to one of my favourite pieces
-- Anton Bruckner's Te Deum laudamus.
On Wednesday 21 March I gave an interview to Russia
Today. It is high time to recognize the UN Charter as the
constitution of all of humanity and the ICJ as the world constitutional
court ! Let's have too an international court of human rights.
On Wednesday 14 March
Bruna Molina and I hosted a UN "side
event" on IBOR and
the International Court of Human Rights.
On Tuesday 13 March fruitful UN panel on women's
rights. Good audience -- and I even gave a TV interview afterwards.
On Saturday 10 March Ex Tempore co-sponsored a "happening" at
the Bains des Paquis with redings of poetry by Alphonse
de Lamartine, Hermann Hesse, Rainer Marie Rilke -- and Antony Hequet.
International reported on the event.
6 March I was on a UN panel on indefinite detention and special
procedures. On Friday 2 March I was on another UN Panel on Camps
Ashraf and Liberty, together with Justice Geoffrey Roberts, Q.C.,
Professor Vera Gowlland, Gianfranco Fattorini, etc.
abstinence is upon us, always an opportunity to take stock
and slow down a bit. Here a meditation on
Easter and a meditation on
the temple and us.
On 28 February
the Grand Theatre de Genève
gave a splendid performance of Bohuslav Martinu's Opera Juliette.
The producton by Richard Jones and costumes by Antony McDonald
were fascinating in a surrealistic way.
The February 2012 issue of the UN Special brings a short article
On Tuesday 31 January the Grand Theatre de Genève
presented Jean-Jacques Rousseau's opera Le
Devin du Village, very
competently sung by Mark Milhofer and Norma Nahoun, also a
shorter opera or Intermezzo by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, La
Serva Padrona. It's tremendous fun to discover these forgotten
On Friday evening 20 January 2012 we held the 16th
salon, dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, but this time with only 47 participants, since the weather
was rather inclement. We still had a fine spectrum of English,
French, Spanish, German, Russian and even Vietnamese readings,
as well as Aline Dedeyan's very funny sketch.
On 11 January 2012 Professor Paul Gottfried, Horace
Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
and Guggenheim scholar posted a long article-review of "Völkermord
als Staatsgeheimnis" in the on-line site Takimag. Comments
follow galore. http://takimag.com/article/the_eternal_german_guilt_trip/print#disqus_thread
Carla and I had roast goose for Christmas. The
Gänseschmalz is wonderful for omelettes. Now we are
off again to the olive harvest in Piegon/Nyons, France. There is
something very genuine about climbing on an olive tree and plucking
olives one by one. The olive oil we obtain from the old-fashioned
mill is more flavourful than any other we have ever poured on decades
of salads. Which brings me to a new year's resolution: consume
more salads, more veggies and less animals.
On Sunday 18 December we sang Kodaly,
Rimsky-Korsakov and other favourites at the oecumenical concert
we give every December at St. Hippolyte/Chapelle des Crêts.
Since there were only three of us tenors this year, I could use
my lungs more generously. But the choir director mostly wants piano
or even pianissimo! Tja!
The December 2011 issue of UN Special brings my poem
in Engadin -- even with photos!
On Thursday 8 December Earth Focus held its annual
human rights conference. Among participants were former UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan, Nicola Furey,
Professor Bruna Molina and myself. Among other things, we introduced
our new website for the International Bill of Rights Association. http://www.internationalbillofrights.org/
On 15-18 November the 3 Swiss PEN Clubs commemorated
Writers-in-Prison day. A noted Libyan author
in exile -- Ibrahim Al Koni -- was our guest, and the evening was
Israel Charny, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, just published a review
of my book "Völkermord
als Staatsgeheimnis" in
the Fall 2011 issue Nr. 8 of Genocide
On Friday 11 November I spoke at the
Club de la Presse on the Ashraf
crisis. Other panelists were Gianfranco
Fattorini, co-president of MRAP, Jacques Neirynck, member of the
Swiss Federal Parliament, Professor Christianne Perregaux, Jean-Charles
Rielle, member of the Federal Parliament, Eric Sottas, Secretary-General
of the OMCT, Queens Council Georffrey Robertson, Professor Eric
David and Préfet
Yves Bonnet. Let us hope that the crime of silence will be broken
and that the UN will take effective action to protect the 3400
innocent civilians in the camp. If R2P means anything, here is
a good place to apply it.
On Friday 4 November singing rehearsals for the oecumenical
Christmas concert began at the Chapelle des Crêts.
Once again the tenors are in the minority, which gives me the opportunity
to sing louder. Fun! Kodaly, Arrian, Berthier, Lécot.
Thursday 3 November the Association por la recherche, la promotion
et le Développement
Eco-Moderne (AIEM.DI) held ist constitutive assembly in Geneva.
Dominique Simondet is President, Geneva Conseiller Marc Falquet
was elected Director and I Vice-President in charge of international
Sunday 30 October Carla and I did the 3-hour hike through the Bois
near Vich (the "toblerone" walk),
through rustling forests in brown, red and yellow, next to the
murmur of the Severine stream.
The October issue of the UN
Special published my
short piece on the alpine horn, "Le cor des alpes, un instrument
On Saturday 22 October Carla and I did a lovely hike
through the vineyards near Aubonne, collected over a hundred fresh
walnuts and chestnuts and I even took a final Indian-summer swim
in lake Geneva. It was wonderfully sunny and unseasonably warm--
both air and water temperature were around 14-15 degrees. The beach
was deliciously deserted.
Thursday 20 October the International Parliamentary Union held
a conference with Parlamentarians from all over
the world. I spoke on the links between civil and political rights
and the implementation of the right
10 October, on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Day
Against the Death Penalty, I spoke at the Place des Nations at
a large gathering of the relatives of refugees at Camp Ashraf in
Irak, who have every reason to fear another massacre. I noted the
considerable increase in the number of death sentences and executions
in Iran, which pose a grave threat to all opposition leaders and
On Satuday 8 October Carla and I conducted the lay
service at the Chapelle de Crêts with readings from Matthew
and Mark. Such religious services are often more authentic
than official worship, and the tradition goes back to early
Christian times, when lay Christian communities met to meditate,
discuss, commune. It was beautiful and breathed life.
At the General Assembly of the United
Nations Society of Writers on Friday, 7 October, the board was
reelected and I was confirmed in my function as editor-in-chief
Volume XXII is about to come out.
On Wednesday 5 October, after my morning lecture
and advising a master's student on her thesis, Carla and I "stole"
one last swim in the lake. Water temperature was 18 degrees, air
temperature 21. Not bad for beginning of October. But a cold front
is approaching. Alas. There we were, looking at the water and munching
on Noah's bagels from San Francisco. We are undecided whether the
pumpkin or the Asiago bagels are the best.
Just learned that my correspondence with Golo Mann
is in the Schweizerisches Literaturarchiv, http://ead.nb.admin.ch/html/mann_F.html.
Besides visiting him at home in Kilchberg, we had been together
on ZDF discussing the fallacious "collective guilt" doctrine, http://archiv.preussische-allgemeine.de/1988/1988_01_02_01.pdf
Tuesday 4 October I participated in the Second
International Conference "Public diplomacy and youth
volunteering" in Room VIII at the Palais des Nations,
organized by the International Youth Movement with headquarters
in Moscow. I spoke on the work of the International Bill of Rights
Association, made my introductory remarks in Russian and even
took some of the questions in Russian. Nice kids -- bright eyed,
It's UN panel time again. Monday 19
September on self-determination, Wedesday 21 and Thursday 22 September
on Camp Ashraf, Monday 26 September on Women's Rights, Tuesday
27 September noon on Kashmir, Tuesday 27 Sepember 3 p.m. on the
right to peace. Be glad when when UN Council is over.
On 11 September the Tagesspiegel in Berlin brought
a nice review of "Völkermord als Staatsgeheimnis" by Professor
Dr. Arnulf Baring (Berlin).
Carla and I cycled some 60 kilometers
around lac de Rousses (in France) and lac de Joux (in Switzerland)
on Sunday 25 September. It's Indian Summer and the air temperature
was 25 degrees, water temperature 17 degrees. We tried out both
The human rights journal "Menschenrechte" just
published on page 29 of its Nr1/2011 a short but fine review of
my book "Völkermord als Staatsgeheimnis"
On Thursday 11 August I
was again on a UN panel, as a side-event
to the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council, this time with Professor Jean Ziegler,
member of the Advisory Committee, with Professor Guy Goodwin Gill
(Oxford), Professor Vera Gowlland (Geneva), Dr. Eric Sottas (Geneva),
the Spanish barrister Juan Garces (Madrid) and Mme
I focused on the UNAMI report 2010 and its deplorable euphemisms.
10 August I participated on the panel of the International
Conference on Camp Ashraf and the Responsibilities of the United
Nations, held at the Inter-Continental Hotel. Mme
Maryam Rajavi opened the conference, other speakers
were former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Congressman Patrick
Kennedy, former Amnesty International Chief Irene Khan, and the
French-Colombian human rights activist Ingrid Betancourt. I focused
on the issue of "legal
the residents of Ashraf and on the inacceptable notion of "legal
black holes". The Ashraf residents are human beings and enjoy
the protection of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the Refugee Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention
of 1949. As Baruch Spinoza observed in his Ethics, "nature
abhors a vacuum". The event was also reported in the German-language
On Monday 8 August I spoke 7 minutes (I only had
the right to 4 minutes, but the chair did not cut me off!) at the
Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council -- on the Declaración
de Santiago and possible amendments to the Draft Declaration on
the Human Right to Peace.
On Sunday 7 August I was one of the three
panelists in the expert consultation on the human right to peace,
held at the John Knox Centre. We are realy moving ahead!
On 28 July
at the General Assembly of the Société
Espagnole pour le Droit International des Droits Humains,
I was appointed Treasurer. Our President is Prof. Carlos Villan
Duran and our Secretary, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado, is currently
the President of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries.
On Thursday, 21 July the Human Rights Committee adopted
General Comment Nr. 34 on freedom of opinion and expression. Particularly
important is paragraph 49:
" Laws that penalise the expression of opinions about historical
facts are incompatible with the obligations that the Covenant
imposes on States parties in relation to the respect for freedom
of opinion and expression. The Covenant does not permit general
prohibition of expressions of an erroneous opinion or an incorrect
interpretation of past events. Restrictions on the right of freedom
of opinion should never be imposed and, with regard to freedom
of expression they should not go beyond what is permitted in paragraph
3 or required under article 20." For the full, advanced unedited
On 21 July Europe News published
an article on the Cyprus question that relies in part on Professor
Andreas Auer's constitutional law paradigm of a Principled Basis
for a Just and Lasting Cyprus Settlement. http://europenews.dk/en/node/45462
also an earlier article by Henrik R. Clausen, which cites my work: http://europenews.dk/en/node/42657
Monday 4 July I spoke to a large group of Mujaheedins and their
families demonstrating at the Place des Nations on "Ashraf
et le crime du silence" just in front of the
United Nations building.
The International Human Rights Association of American
Minorities (IHRAAM) has invited me to join their Directorate. It
is a matter of ethics and intellectual honesty to serve the "unsung
June 2011 issue of UN Special carries my article "Music
as International Language."
On Friday 10 June I participated
on a UN panel, hosted by the Indian Council of South America and
the Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition on "Self-determination
and Human Rights". I spoke about the problem of international
law à la
carte, and the arbitrary application of the principle of self-determination,
depending on geopolitical considerations of the great powers, and
compared the situations in Kurdistan, Palestine, Katanga, Biafra,
Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Transnistria, Southern Ossetia, Abkhazia, Hawaii,
Alaska and Sudan.
7 June I participated on a UN panel, hosted by OCAPROCE, on the
millennium development goals and in particular on goals 2 and 3
concerning education and equality of women at the workplace. I
spoke about the maquiladoras.
On Tuesday 31 May I participated
on a UN panel hosted by the International Human Rights Association
of American Minorities on "Detention
in Conflict." The
other panelists were Professor Dr. Joshua Catellino, Prof. Nazir
Shawl, Dr. Elvira Dominguez Redondo, Dr. Nadia Bernaz, and Barrister
On Monday 16 May
I delivered a paper at a closed UN
side event, a consultation on the human
right to peace, with the participation of the Western and
Eastern European groups of the Human Rights Council. Indeed,
dulce bellum inexpertis -- war is only attractive
to the unexperienced (attributed to Erasmus of Rotterdam)
Issue 934 of
the EU weekly newspaper published in Brussels New
8 May 2011, carries my full-page analysis on the Armenian
Genocide and International Law on page 14.
On Saturday 7 May at the Stadttheater in Freiburg
in Breisgau, Germany, I delievered a Laudatio to
Judge Baltasar Garzon Real at a dignified ceremony during which
the Freiburger Kant Gesellschaft conferred upon him the Weltbürgerpreis.
Zeitung published a nice report on 9 May at page 26. Zeit-Fragen published
excerpts of my Laudatio. Let's say with Kant: Sapere aude!
6 May my interview on "Völkermord
was published in the Preussischen Allgemeine Zeitung, on page 10.
On 2 May I gave a lecture
in French on Rainer Maria Rilke at the Geneva Salon
du livre (bookfair). It was reasonably well
attended (some 25 people, PEN members and non-members). From
left to right Fanny Mouchet, Hoang Nguyen, Claude Krul, Alexis
Koutchoumow, Bruno Mercier, Zeki Ergas, myself. Literature is
so much nicer than politics!
Thursday, 28 April I read at the UN library the pretty thorough
review of my new book "Völkermord
published in the Netherlands International Law Review.
The reviewer highlights the inter-disciplinary methodology of
the book. I guess that international lawyers will read the review
-- but how many historians?
Wednesday 20 April I spoke on a panel held at the Club de la Presse
on the international criminal aspects of the Einsatzgruppen-like
actions of the Iraqui army against the Ashraf refugees. The Television
de la Suisse Romande reported on the panel in the Wednesday
evening news, and the Tribune de Genève and Le
intelligent articles on the Ashraf crisis on Thursday 21 April.
On Saturday 16 April I participated on a panel on the Iraqui massacre
against the Aschraf refugees, Iranian Mujaheidins held at a camp
in Irak, formerly under the protection of the U.S. government.
On 8 April Iraqi soldiers attacked the refugee camp, killed 34
and wounded more than 300 refugees. Surely a crime against humanity,
a grave breach of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 -- disgraceful
and yet largely unreported. The other panelists were Pofessor Jean
Ziegler, vice-President of the Advisory Committee of the Human
Rights Council, Dr Jean-Charles Rielle, Conseiller national and
Pastor Daniel Neeser and
Marc Falquet, Député au Grand Conseil Genevois.
Here again we recognize the phenomenon of victims of crime -- and
victims of silence. More generally we are confronted with the
inhumanity of silence and indifference -- because these victims
are not deemed politically correct. We adopted
of On 31 March Canadians
for Genocide Education conferred upon me their "Educator's
CGE is an association of some 53 organizations of survivors of
genocide and ethnic cleansing including indigenous Americans, Armenians,
Bosnians, Chaldeo-Assyrians, Croatians, Cypriots, Germans, Greeks,
Jews, Kosovars, Kurds, Macedonians, Rwandans, Roma, Sinti, Serbs,
Slovenes, Tamils, Ukranians etc. I could not fly to the University
of Toronto to accept the award, but my acceptance
read out. It was reported in the press, including the German-Canadian Neue
6 April, page 3. Genocide
Prevention Now, a publication edited
by Professor Israel Charny, Jerusalem, reported on it.
My new book "Völkermord als Staatsgeheimnis" has
just been published by Olzog Verlag, München, 2011. 206 pages,
Index, Facsimiles, ISBN 978-3-7892-8329-1
From the preface by Professor Dr. Karl Doehring, former Director
of the Max Planck Institut für ausländisches öffentliches
Recht und Völkerrecht
(Heidelberg): "... Aber letztlich geht es ihm um die Frage, ob es eine Kollektivschuld
der Deutschen für die Judenmorde gab. Das würde voraussetzen, dass
zumindest der 'normale' Staatsbürger von diesen Vorgängen etwas gewusst
habe, und zwar nicht nur durch Andeutungen und Flüsterinformationen, sondern
durch klare Kenntnisse. Dass eine solche Kenntnis nicht vorhanden war, belegt
der Autor in seinem Buch durch Heranziehung solider Informationen, auch aus den
Nürnberger Prozesssen, von Dokumenten und Aussagen von Zeitzeugen. Weitere
Versuche, eine Kollektivschuld der Deutschen zu belegen, werden and er Arbeit
des Autors nicht vorbeikommen..."
The UN Human Rights Council was in session in
March and the non governmental organizations put up some
of the most interesting panels. At the side-event on freedom of
the internet I participated from the audience and raised the issue
of censorship by Google in countries like France, Germany and Switzerland.
I participated myself on eleven panels on a variety of issues
-- the human right to peace, women and childrren in armed conflict,
self-determination, a restatement
of the law of human rights, and
the World Court of Human Rights. Some of the speakers were genuinely
inspiring and the public responded with intelligent
contributions and questions. A fruitful exercise and -- after all
-- better bla bla than boom boom.
On 1 March the FAZ published
on page 18 a shortened version of my letter to the editors concerning
the CDU proposal of establishing a National Day of Remembrance
for the Victims of the Expulsion 1945-48.
18-20 February I was in Nicosia, Cyprus for the
World Congress of Displaced Hellenes, which dealt with the expulsions
and massacres of Greeks of Pontus and Smyrna, Armenians, Chaldeo-Assyrians,
and with the "ethnic
accompanied the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The successful
colloquium was hosted by the Kyrenia refugees association “Adouloti
Kerynia”. I focused on the report of the International Panel "A
Principled Basis for a Just and Lasting Cypriot Settlement" and
on the need to start the process for a Constitutional Convention
in Cyprus. I gave several interviews, including to the Cyprus
Friday evening 21 January: 15th annual Ex Tempore
salon. 63 UN and PEN Club members recited poetry in English, French,
Spanish, Dutch, Latin, and Vietnamese. Alas, this time we had no
Arabic, Chinese or Russian, although I managed to put in a couple
of Russian words edgewise. Aline Dedeyan did a fine sketch with
Alexis Koutchoumow. Connie Ouko sang her own songs in Swahili,
and a quartet sang 3 Bulgarian songs a capella. We had two pauses
in which people enjoyed Ngozi's shrimp with spinach, while other
guests brought home-made enchiladas, brownies, and all that wonderful
high-calorie finger-food. Practically nothing was left-over. The
last guests left at 0:30 Saturday morning. See "Le Numéro
XXI d'Ex Tempore est tiré; il faut le lire" U.N.Special,
février 2011, p.
Wednesday 19 January I spoke at the Advisory Committee of the Human
Rights Council and commented on the progress report of the working
group on the Human Right to Peace. I actually went over my time
limit -- and, mercifully, the Chairperson did not cut me off. It
was very well received by the members and we had to make additional
copies of my oral statement.
Every now and again there comes a political and
moral essay that is worth reflecting upon. In that category we
should include Ambassador Stéphane
Hessel's October 2010 manifesto "Indignez-vous!". Every
young person -- and some older ones, particularly politicians !
-- ought to study it. Below is a photo taken at Mikhail Gorbachev's
World Political Forum Human Rights Conference in
Bosco Marengo, Italy, on 7 November 2008 together with Ambassador
Hessel, a collaborator at the drafting of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights of 1948.
On 10 December, on the occasion of UN celebrations
of Human Rights Day, Curtis Roosevelt, grandson of Eleanor and
Franklin spoke to the students at the Geneva School of Diplomacy.
In the morning I also participated on a panel organized by Earth
Focus, in which I introduced Berkeley
University's Project 2048.
centimeters of snow in the garden -- haven't seen that for years!
Time to make snowmen, throw snowballs and go skiing.
This year P.E.N. International celebrates the 50th
anniversary of the founding of the Writers in Prison Committee,
upon a felicitous proposal of the Centre Suisse romand. On 15-18
November the three Swiss Centres commemorated the event
with public lectures by and discussions with notable speakers.
On 18 November our guest was Deo Namujimbo, a Congolese journalist
sans frontiers, the agence de presse Syfia Grands
InfoSud Suisse. For more than twenty years
he reported independently about political developments in the Congo,
covering in particular the war in East Congo, in Kivu and Bukavu.
After his brother, also a journalist, was murdered and Deo and
his family were repeatedly threatened, he obtained political
asylum in France, where he currently lives and continues writing
about the plight of the Congolese people, always with a sense of
proportions and a commitment to the human dignity of all concerned.
During the discussion I addressed issues of impunity, reconciliation,
the International Criminal Court and the role of the UN Mission
in the Congo.
The 17-minute video on the 100th
session celebration of the UN Human Rights Committee
on 29 October 2010 has now been issued, with excellent excerpts
of statements by Bertie Ramcharan, Robert Badinter, Mohammed Bedjaoui,
Antonio Cançado Trindade, Committee members and representatives
from UNHCR, ILO, etc.. http://vimeo.com/16823400.
I briefly speak on the implementation gap and the need to enact
enabling legislation so as to give Committee decisions status in
the domestic legal order of States parties and thereby facilitate
On Sunday 7 November our Pontifex Benedict XVI
consecrated the Basilica of la Sagrada
Barcelona before King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and 6,500 faithful
in the truly huge church. Some 51,000 faithful followed the ceremony
on giant screens outside Antoni Gaudi's (1852-1926) amazing building
(UNESCO world heritage site). Yet another reason to go back to
beautiful Barcelona. Last time I was there in 2004 for a P.E.N.
congress on writers in prison, I would not have dreamt that the
Basilica would be ready for Papal consecretion in my lifetime.
The building, the altar, the columns, the stained glass windows
are just spectacularly beautiful. Next year the Pope travels again
to Spain, this time to Madrid, on the occasion of the 26th
World Youth Day.
Friday 5 November was our second Christmas rehearsal
in the oecumenical choir of Crêts/St. Hippolyte. We added
to the program a piece by François Couperin that I had never
heard of before. Lots of fun for the tenors.
Friday 5 November was UPR day for the US at the
Human Rights Council. Most interesting was perhaps the one-and-a-half
hour presentation by Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
I posed three questions to him concerning Article 19 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the problems of national
security, censorship and self-censorship. What balance ought to
be struck with the crucial right in every democarcy to have
access to all information, the right to disseminate such information,
the right to ask questions and demand answers. This brought us
to the obligation to investigate violations of human rights
and international humanitarian law, and the issue
of impunity and universal jurisdiction. Indeed, if the ICC, ICTY
and ICTR were all established to fight impunity, what does this
mean with regard to the impunity of NATO coalition forces and Iraqi
police? There were tough questions asked and the large conference
room XXII was filled to capacity.
Thursday 4 November Mr. Ramsey Clark, 66th Attorney General of
the United States, spoke at the Pavillon
Gallatin of the Geneva School of Diplomacy. I
asked the first long question concerning the US mid-term elections
of 2 November and the dangers posed by the growing military-industrial
complex in the United States and the unconscionably high "defence"
budget, which eats up more than 50% of the U.S. budget, notwithstanding
urgent needs for health, education and general welfare. Ramsey
dedicated one of his books for me, "The Fire this Time",
which I read and used when I was professor in Chicago.
3 Noverber, in connection with the preparation for the examination
of the U.S. report by the Human Rights Council, I participated
on the panel hosted by the International Association of Democratic
Lawyers, the Associaition of Humanitarian Lawyers, the Arab Lawyers
Union, and the International Youth and Student Movement for the
United Nations, devoted to the extra-territorial violations of
human rights by the United States and private military companies,
primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. My paper focused on the right
of victims to a remedy. Other panelists were
former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Dr. Dirk Andriansens
of the Brussels Tribunal Executive Committee, and Prof. Curtis
On Tuesday 2 November I spoke at the UN "side
event" on Self-Determination hosted by Ambassador Ronald Barnes.
Other panelists were Mrs. Mary Ann Mills, Tribal Chair and Tribal
Judge of the Kenaitze Tribe in Alaska, Mr. Kai'opua Fife, Mr. Pola
Laenui and HE Leon Kaulahau Siu of the Koani Foundtion of the Hawaiian
Kingdom. I focused on the implications of the Apology Resolutions
sigend by Bill Clinton in 1993 and by Barak Obama in 2009.
29 October the Human
Rights Committee commemorated its
100th session. I spoke on behalf of the International Society for
Human Rights at the 100th
session celebration of the Human Rights Committee. I focused
on human dignity as the source of all human rights and on the necessity
of enabling legislation in all States parties to the ICCPR so that
Committee decisions have status in the domestic legal order.
On Monday 20 September I delivered an
oral statement at the Human Rights Council on behalf of the International
Society for Human Rights.
On Thursday 16 September it was back to the UN for
the International P.E.N. panel with P.E.N. President John Ralston
Saul. Our P.E.N. Suisse romand organized a cheese fondue dinner
in honour of John Saul.
China is considering ratification of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights. I
participated on panels at an ICCPR symposium in Beijing on Saturday-Sunday
5/6 December. At left on the photo is Harvard and NYU Professor
Jerome A. Cohen, who is also a bow-tie wearer like myself. I took
advantage of the opportunity to visit the Great Wall and the
Temple of Peace.
18 November, at the invitation of Professor Robert Kolb of the
Law Faculty of the University of Geneva I delivered a two-hour
lecture to an audience of 250 students on "The
Human Right to Peace", focusing on the Luarca Declaration
and on Human Rights Council Resolution 11/4 of 17 June 2009, by
virtue of which the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights is preparing a study on the content and enforceability of
the right to peace. I elaborated on the existing norms
and the implications of the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" in
the light of UN Charter article 2(4). The students had lots of
good questions. It was quite refreshing -- and fun.
On 3-4 September I participated in the international
conference on the Armenian genocide, held at Beirut, Lebanon. I
gave several televised interviews. Below is the link to a published
article in El Mundo, the Spanish daily. http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2009/09/04/orienteproximo/1252078237.html
Also took advantage of the opportunity to visit old Phoenian cities
like Sidon and Tyre and admire the UNO world heritage sites.
The handbook is finally out -- Justice Jakob
and I are happy to announce:
Nations Human Rights Committee Case-Law 1977-2008 --A
Handbook. 630-pages with annexes, index,
etc. obtainable from N.P.Engel, Kehl and Strasbourg,
2009, hardcover · ISBN 978-3-88357-144-7 · 2009 · € 148;
US$ 188; £120; SFr. 236 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Extravantly expensive, but also frightfully thorough and still user-friendly.
On 16 July Jakob and I personally handed the
book to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at
her Palais Wilson office, and discussed its potential as a practitioner's
handbook. On 15 July the book launch at the Château de Penthes
took place, Christine Chanet spoke for the Committee and Bertie
Ramcharan about the commitment of OHCHR to the treaty bodies and
in particular to the creation of meaningful jurisprudence. After
the "official" part of the event, Isabel Möller presented Jakob
and me with "unofficial" Human Rights Committee baseball caps and
a bagfull of publicity flyers for the book. Here are the happy
On 22 July I lectured at Sirnach in the canton of
St. Gallen, on the jurisprudence of the HRC and focused
on the spectacular "Views"
in Sayadi v. Belgium, and on the decision to take the Sayadi family
out of the terrorist list of the Security Council's Sanctions Committe.
Quite a success for human rights. The audience of some 200 kept
asking questions for more than an hour!
The UN Special of June 2009 brings a nice review by
the former High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan
on pages 18-19.
7-8 July 2009 I lectured on United
Nations Mechanisms to uphold international humanitarian law --
at the International
Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy, as part
of their very successful summer course. Bottom line of my lecture
is that human rights law is fully applicable during war and that
it is not replaced by the regime of international humanitarian
law. In other words, the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights is not suspended when armed conflict occurs and the Hague
and Geneva Conventions become applicable. The two regimes are complementary,
not mutually exclusive. The Latin maxim "lex
specialis derogat lex generalis" does not mean that
the laws of war replace the laws of peace -- this is a bad translation
of the Latin verb derogo,
which does not mean abolish (aboleo, exstinguo, tollo, rescindo)
but rather to make or propose modifications to a law. I thus suggested
a new maxim: Lex specialis suppleat lex generalis, i.e.
special legislation supplements or completes general legislation.
I also listened to the presentations by the other distinguished
lecturers, including ICJ Judge Abdul G. Koroma of Sierra
Leone, and took advantage to jump in the Mediterranean and swim
at the felicitous Morgana beach.
David Forsythe's Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Oxford)
just came out, including my six articles on
Jose Ayala Lasso (Vol. I, pp. 130-132), Aryeh Nyer (vol. 4, pp.
62-64), P.E.N. and Human Rights (vol. 4, pp.. 204-206), Bertrand
Ramcharan (vol. 4, pp. 313-314), Kenneth Roth (vol.4, pp. 204-206),
and Simon Wiesenthal (Vol. 5, pp. 327-330) ISBN13: 9780195334029.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Public International
Law just uploaded my online article on "Guantanamo Naval Base".
On 9-10 December 2008 the Institut Pierre Werner
in Luxembourg, the Instituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain, Rome,
and the University of Luxembourg held a conference focusing on
new approaches to contemporary human rights issues. I spoke on "the universal system of Protection of Human Rights" and elaborated on a new human rights paradigm where enabling rights like the right to peace play a central role. Other
participants were Professorr Nicholas Michel of the University
of Geneva, Ambassador Christian Strohal of Austria and Roberto
Papini, Secretary General of the International Jacques Maritain
The UN Staff magazine UN Special just published my article on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its December issue, available online.
On 5 October 2008, at the Darwish Memorial Lecture hosted by PEN Suisse romand and the UN Society of Writers, Abdel Wahab Hani recited in Arabic the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish. I moderated the literary and human rights event, which was attended by 31 persons and lasted from 4 to 7 p.m. on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.. Claude Krul, Jacques Hermann and Zeki Ergas of PEN delivered profound words about the Palestinian poet, accompanied by readings of translations into French and English.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, President of the World
hosted a fascinating conference at Bosco Marengo in Piemonte, Italy,
on the Implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
on 5-7 November. Top participants including the President of the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Fausto
Pocar, Anatoly Adamishin, UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diène,
Danielle Mitterand, Professor Hal Gardner, Dr. Jona Bargur, Lelio
Bentes Correa, Ambassador Stéphane
Hessel, etc. etc. I spoke on the Human Right to Peace and personally
gave Gorbachev the book "La
Declaracion de Luarca" in his very hands -- chatted a
while with him and understood every word. He speaks a clear, friendly
Russian -- worthy of the glasnost predicate.
By the way, the second, revised edition of Carlos Villan Duran's
book just came out with Ediciones Madu in Spain. I considerably
expanded and updated my article "el crimen contra la paz".
Besides Spanish entries, there are other contributions in French
and English. At the conference I presented one working paper and
participated in two workshops. My closing remarks in the plenary
of the Bosco Marengo conference: "Alvaro Gil Robles has reminded
us of a number of uncomfortable realities. Allow me one observation:
our politicians always pretend to be the 'good guys', and yet they
often apply international law à la
carte, give lip service to human rights, keep silent about violations
by our friends and go around pointing fingers at the others. This
has resulted in a feeling of malaise and even pessimism, because
we know we are not being entirely honest with ourselves. The Oracle
at Delphi told visitors: know yourself - gnothi seaton (γνῶθι σεαυτόν) .
Maybe our politicians should try this for once -- just get some
mirrors. Then maybe when we regain our credibility we shall have
the needed strength to advance the cause of peace, disarmament,
solidarity and human dignity. Gospodin Gorbachev, eto sosedanie
bila diestvitelna prekrasna. Mi vse ochen blagodorim vas."
On 2-3 October the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a seminar on the links between articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I was the first ngo to take the floor, and reported on the Charter of PEN International and our commitment to promote freedom of expression. I also summarized the relevant judgment of 7 November 2007 of the Spanish Constitutional Court. On 3 October I again took the floor with a statement on the responsibility of writers to promote international understanding. A few days after this important conference, on 10 October 2008, Professor Pierre Nora,
member of the Académie française, launched the Appel de Blois on behalf of the liberty of historians to conduct their research freely and the aberration of legislatures that pretend to legislate history and establish dogmas protected by penal law. I strongly support the Appel de Blois, which is consistent with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Public International Law (edited by Professor Rüdiger Wolfrum, completely rewritten new edition of the famous Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, edited by Professor Rudolf Bernhardt) has just gone on-line. Of my five entries, three are up: "Forced Population Transfer", "Repatriation" and "Spanish Civil War". Two more are in the pipeline: "Marshall Plan" and "Guantanamo Naval Base". See http://www.mpepil.com/
On 18 September the Rheinischer Merkur brought a nice review of
my "50 Thesen zur Vertreibung". We have sold nearly 5000
copies in barely 4 months.
From 18 to 25 August Carla and I cycled blithely though Zuidholland and Zeeland, discovering historic mills and churches -- including the magnificent Grote Kerk in Maassluis with its wonderful Garrels organ. Maassluis lies on the Nieuwe Waterweg some 20 Km downstream from Rotterdam - and the fresh, raw haringe are
tasty indeed! The "Lange Jan" of the Nieuwe Kerk in Middelburg delighted us with its wonderful carillon.
On 26/27 July the Südmährischer
Landschaftsrat and the city of Geislingen an der Steige conferred
upon me their Kulturpreis. The Geislingen Zeitung and the Göppingen Zeitung reported on 28 July. I received the "Ehrenbrief"
from the hands of the Oberbürgermeister of Geislingen, Wolfgang
Amann, and from the Sprecher of the Süddmährer Franz Longin.
It was a beautiful ceremony in which I articulated my gratefuil
appreciation of the cultural heritage of this part of Europe that
produced Adalbert Stifter, Franz Schubert and Rainer Maria Rilke,
who mean so much to me. I also had the opportunity of introducing
the second, revised edition of my Rilke translations, published
in July 2008 by Red Hen Press in Los Angeles, with a preface by
Professor Ralph Freedman, the foremost Rilke and Hesse expert and
biographer in the United States. René Rilke was not "just"
a metaphysical poet, but at times a kind of Heimat
troubadour.. You can order Larenopfer from
the editor Mark E. Cull (email@example.com),
or go on the publisher's website www.redhen.org.
Of course, you can also find it through Amazon. The November 2005
issue of the Blätter
der Rilke Gesellschaft did a nice review of the
first edition of my translations of Larenopfer (Offerings
to the Lares -- i.e. to the household deities) with commentary.
In these charming 90 poems the then 20-year old Rilke sings his
hometown Prague and homeland Bohemia. For another review in a German-Canadian
journal click here.
The summer reading list of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois,
praises Larenopfer and the "exquisite illustrations" by
Martin Andrysek. http://www.millikin.edu/english/archives/read07.html).
Red Hen Press is a small publisher specialized in poetry and literature
-- P.O. Box 3537 Granada Hills, California 91394, Tel. 818 - 831.0649,
Fax 818 - 831.6659.
On Friday 27 June I interviewed the Al-Jazeera journalist Samy El Haj, who spent six years unjustly detained in Guantanamo. The interview was published in the July issue of the Swiss newspaper Current Concerns.
On 7 May 2008 my 50 Thesen zur Vertreibung (firstname.lastname@example.org)
were published in a first edition of 10,000 copies. ISBN 978-3-9812110-0-9.
DIE WELT commented them favourably in its edition of 10 May, page
On 18-19 April I participated in an intenational conference on
the Armenian genocide, held at Nicosia, Cyprus, on the occasion
of the 93rd anniversary of the beginning of the genocide. I delivered
a lecture before
some 80 participants.
Bernward Koch-Boehm issued in March 2008 a CD-recording with
Erdenklang/da music, Nr. 61182. Deutsche Austrophon GmbH,
D-49356 Diepholdz, 2008. The piano CD is dedicated to Hermann
Hesse 1946 Nobel laureate for Literature, and reproduces
the text of Hesse's wonderful poem "Stufen",
together with my translation. The CD is entitled "Montagnola.
Dedicated to Hermann Hesse. Meditative Piano Improvisations".
On 13 December 2007, I participated in the working meeting of
the advisory board of the Stiftung Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen
in Berlin. Our successful exhibit "Erzwungene Wege" is now
in Munich and will go on to Düsseldorf and Stuttgart in 2008.
A new exhibition on the German settlements in Eastern Europe is
now being elaborated by a team of experts.
On 10 December 2007, 59th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly, I was honoured
in Stuttgart with the Human Rights Award of the Danube Swabian Society
of Germany (Volksgruppe der Donauschwaben e.V.). My former law professor
in Tübingen, Professor Thomas Oppermann held the laudatio.
Nice to have such friends! The Tapach Choir accompanied the ceremony
with Schubert and Beethoven. The event was reported on 11 December
in the Stuttgarter Zeitung under the header "Donauschwaben
zeichnen aus", p. 22.
The University of Toronto journal Genocide
Studies and Prevention ( Vol. 2, No. 2, 2007) just published
my study "The Istanbul Pogrom of 6-7 September 1955 in the
Light of International Law". See abstract.The
article was translated into Greek and published in full length in
two consecutive issues of the Athens newspaper ó Politeis,
under the title "Septemvriana", September/October
2007. A longer version of the legal opinion was published in the
book by Professor Speros Vryonis, The Mechanism of Catastrophe,
ISBN 13: 978-0-9747660-6-5, second revised edition, New York 2007.
On 17 September I moderated a round table at the Palais des Nations,
Salle XXI, just outside the meeting room of the Human Rights Council.
Topic was "la dignité
de la personne au coeur des droits de l'homme", and the
participants were Archbishop Silvano Tomassi, Nonce apostolique,
Clément Imbert, représentant de Points-Coeur, Philippe
LeBanc, délégué permanent de l'Ordre Dominicain
aux Nations Unies, Jakob Möller, ancien juge à la Chambre
des Droits de l'Homme à Sarajevo, and Bertrand Ramcharan,
former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In October 2007 the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich,
together with the Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen in Berlin, published a small book "Die Posdamer Konferenz 60 Jahre danach",
containing the speeches delivered at the Berlin Colloquium on the
Potsdam Conference. The panelists were Prof. Helmut Altrichter of
the University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Prof. Alexei Filitov of the
Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Prof. Anthony Nichols of
Oxford, Prof. Georges-Henri Soutou of the Sorbonne, and myself.
Prof. Guido Knopp, chief historian at ZDF, moderated the lively
discussion. On 23 July 2005 the Bayernkurier
had already published a short version of my thesis on Potsdam
Erbe der Potsdamer Konferenz.
On 15 September 2007 I delivered a lecture at the Felix Ermacora
Institut in Vienna entitled "Rainer
Maria Rilke als Heimatdichter: von böhmischer Heimat zur
walliser Wahlheimat". There were about 100 persons in the audience
and I learned a lot from the discussion that followed.
On 18-19 June at the Hôtel Westminster in Nice, the UFR Institut
du Droit de la Paix et Développement de l'Université
de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, avec la collaboration de l'Institut International
de Droit Humanitaire (Sanremo), held a fascinating colloquium on
"Religions et Droit International Humanitaire". I was
on the panel devoted to "les doctrines religieuses et les sources
formelles du droit international humanitaire" and delivered
a paper entitled "Normes
morales et normes juridiques: concurrence ou conciliation",
which will be published shortly.
The Geneva Post Quarterly
just published my new article on "Minority rights in the New
Millennium". Citation: The Geneva Post Quarterly, Volume 2,
Number 1, May-June 2007, pp. 155-208
On 15-17 December I attended a conference on Cyprus
at Athens and took time to admire the Acropolis, grateful to the
ancient Greeks for their gift to civilization -- the cult of reason,
the Logos, and a sense for moderation, meden agan.
On 27 January we had a follow-up meeting in Geneva with Professor
Andreas Auer of the University of Geneva.
On October 17-19 New York University's Jean Monnet
Centre for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice
hosted an international symposium at its Florence (Italy) "La
Pietra" campus, which was devoted to "Rethinking
the Cyprus Problem: A European Approach". (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/events/cyprusparticipants.htm)
Professor Joseph Weiler presented a ground-breaking, thought-provoking
working paper, which a round
table of professors, diplomats, practitioners and experts analyzed.
We tackled not only the principles but also the functional and practical
aspects of Professor Weiler's proposals. I introduced and commented
the joint paper on constitution-making, which a year ago, on
12 October 2005, members of the "International Expert Panel
on a Cyprus Settlement" had presented before the European Parliament
in Brussels, where I had made opening
remarks on a "principled basis for a just and
lasting Cyprus settlement", and focused on the peaceful settlement
of disputes and on the principles of sovereignty, equality and independence
of States embodied in Article 6 of the European Union Treaty.
At the Florence round
table, I also delivered a paper on "The
Legal Status of the Turkish settlers".
See also Profressor
On 8 October 2005 the International Association
for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus hosted a conference
under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
and with the participation of numerous judges and advocates of the
European Court in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights
in Strasbourg. Here is the abstract
of my paper. On
Thursday, 1 September 2005, at Nicosia, Cyprus, members of the international
expert panel presented "A
principled basis for a just and lasting Cyprus settlement in the
light of International and European Law" to President
Tassos Papadopoulos of Cyprus, to the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot
community, Mehmet Ali Talat, and to his eminence, Bishop Nikiforos
of Kikko. The paper was prepared by eight professors including Andreas
Auer, Marc Bossuyt, Peter Burns, Dieter Oberndorfer, Silvio-Marcus
Helmons, Malcolm Shaw and myself. Click here for the executive
summary. On 3 September 2005 I gave an interview to
the Cyprus Weekly,
which was published on 14 September 2005. I particularly enjoyed
meeting Titina Loizidou whose courage and perseverance
led to the now famous judgements of 1996 and 1998 of the European
Court of Human Rights. Titina is an expellee from Northern Cyprus
and her efforts to vindicate the right to return and the right to
restitution are of immeasurable value for the development of international
law. She is a true heroine of human rights and a living icon of
En 18-19 diciembre 2006 estuve de nuevo en Alcalá
de Henares, cuna de Cervantes, donde participé en la comision
de doctorado de un joven Aleman, Björn Arp, a quien le concedimos
la nota más alta de summa cum laude por una tesis
estupenda sobre los derechos de las minorías. A finales de
Noviembre había gozado de 5 espléndidos días
en Madrid, donde visité a mis primos de Oviedo, y conocí
el Club Zayas.
Disfruté enormemente el intercambio con 26 estudiantes de
derecho que tomaron mi curso intensivo en la Universidad de Alcalá,
ciudad patrimonio de la humanidad, llena de simpáticas cigueñas
y vestigios de la vieja ciudad Romana que se llamó en su
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
favourably reviewed the new edition of my book "Die deutschen
Vertriebenen" on 31 July under the felicitous headline "Fast
ein Klassiker" (almost a classic). This new
edition of Anmerkungen zur Vertreibung was published by
Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz
(Ares), under the new title "Die deutschen Vertriebenen".
ISBN 3- 902475-15-3. For more information contact: email@example.com.
The new American version of the book "A Terrible Revenge"
(Palgrave/Macmillan) was mentioned favourably in the New York Review
of Books in an article by Robert Paxton on 22 November 2007 pp.
49-50 at p. 50. Didactically
useful are the Thesen
zur Vertreibung (ISBN 3-00-016129-6, August 2006).
The very successful Kohlhammer
paperback edition is now completely sold out. Myths and simplifications
are dangerous. One of those myths that I challenge in my theses
is the manichaean myth of the "good guys" and the "bad
guys", which ignores the complexities of life and disregards
the principle of equality and the imperative of respect for the
human dignity of each and every individual, including the victims
of the Vertreibung. At a commencement exercise at Yale
University in 1962 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said something
very much in point:"The great enemy of truth is very often
not the lie-deliberate, contrived and dishonest-but the myth-persistent,
persuasive and unrealistic. . . . We enjoy the comfort of opinion
without the discomfort of thought.".
The English version of "The German Expellees" (Macmillan,
New York and London, 1993), was subsequently issued in paperback
under the title "A Terrible Revenge" (St. Martin's
Press, New York, 1994).In May 2006 a much revised third edition
was published by Palgrave/Macmillan. Both the English and the German
new editions contain about 20% new material, new photos, new statistical
tables, including new testimonies from Heinz Schön, a survivor
of the greatest sea catastrophe in history, the sinking of the "Wilhelm
Gustloff" on 30 January 1945 with more than 9,000 drowned refugees,
from young Ansgar Graw, born in the Federal Republic of Germany
of East Prussian parents, Bruno Kosak, an Upper Silesian who remained
in the homeland, Erika Murwig, a Pomeranian expellee who expresses
her sense of loss in poetry "Ein Traum", etc. High school
and college teachers may find the "Theses on the Expulsion"
didactically useful. Click here for the Theses.
On Friday 3 February 2006, the Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung published my review
of Professor Norman Finkelstein's thought-provoking
book Beyond Chutzpah, University of California Press, Berkeley.
This book calls for an intellectually honest discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and deplores the instrumentalization of Jewish suffering
for political purposes, in particular the aggressive use of the
past to excuse and justify human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied
Palestine territories today. Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust
survivors and keenly aware of the suffering of the Jewish people.
He convincingly calls for a human-rights approach to the solution
of the conflict. Click
here for the review in English translation.
Saturday, 6 August 2005 six thousand German expellees and their
families came to Berlin to commemorate "Tag der Heimat"
(The Day of the Homeland). Principal speakers were Angela Merkel,
head of the Christian Democratic Union, then candidate to the German
chancellorship, and now first woman Kanzlerin (Prime Minister) of
Germany, Otto Schilly, the then Social Democratic Minister or the
Erika Steinbach, member of the German Parliament
for the CDU party and President of the Zentrum
gegen Vertreibungen in Berlin, and the first UN-High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr.
Jose Ayala Lasso, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador.
For the English text of Ayala's fine speech, click
The Ullstein paperback
edition of Die Anglo-Amerikaner und die Vertreibung der Deutschen
(German version of "Nemesis
at Potsdam") is now sold out. On 6 September 2005
a much revised and enlarged 14th edition (hardbound) was published
by Herbig Verlag in Munich under the title Die
Nemesis von Potsdam,
ISBN 3-7766-2454-X. See the very positive review by
Patrick Sutter in the Neue
Zurcher Zeitung, also the review by Herbert
Ammon, and my interview "Verbrechen
gegen die Menschheit" The English version, originally
published by Routledge in London and Boston, ran three editions,
was then republished by the University of Nebraska Press, which
sold out two editions, and today hails its sixth revised and enlarged
edition with Picton Press, rockland, Maine. See "Publications",
years ago the first genocide of the Twentieth Century started when
Ottoman Turkey attempted to exterminate its Armenian minorities
numbering two million. On 24 April 1915 the Armenian intelligentsia
was arrested and murdered in Istanbul and elsewhere throughout Turkey,
then the common folk in the towns and villages of Eastern Anatolia
were overrun, slaughtered, deported to the Syrian desert. One and
a half million human beings lost their lives. The survivors either
fled to Russia or went into exile, building the Armenian diaspora
of France, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, etc.
On 20-21 April 2005 a major international conference was held in
Yerevan, with the participation (www.armeniaforeignministry.com/conference/speakers.html)
of American, Canadian, Belgian, German, Israeli, Turkish and other
scholars. My legal
opinion on the Armenian genocide and the 1948 Genocide
Convention was distributed to the participants, as well as the text
of my oral prensentation on International
Law, Human Rights and Genocide. On Sunday 24 April
an estimated one million persons, including many foreign delegations,
among others representatives of the U.S. and French Embassies in
Armenia, lay flowers and wreaths at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.
This very moving ceremony was followed by a performance of Verdi's
Requiem and an oecumenical service officiated by His Holiness Karaken
II, Catholicos of all Armenians, at the St. Gregory the Illumitator
Cathedral in Yerevan.
spring 2005 issue of the International Review of the Red Cross
was published in May in a new format, and is devoted entirely to
the growing problem of detention (volume 87, number 857, 2005) .
I contributed the chapter on "Human
Rights and Indefinite Detention" -- a matter of relevance
not only in connection with the so-called "war on terror",
incommunicado detention and ill-treatment in Guantanamo and Abu
Ghraib, but also in connection with the internment of undocumented
migrants and asylum seekers.