The Press Office of the Global Campus of Human Rights is accredited to follow the European Development Days, Europe’s leading forum on development since 2006 and now widely considered as the “Davos of Development”, organised by the EU and taking place in Brussels this week.

In this prestigious forum, the development community gets together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Within this framework, our Press Office had the opportunity to ask the Head of Unit, EU Commission – DG for International Cooperation and Development, Ms Chiara Adamo to share her impressions about the #EDD19 and, most importantly, about issues concerning Human Rights.

What is the importance of the European Development Days after 12 years for the EU Commission DEVCO?

Today, the European Development Days is Europe’s premier forum on international affairs and development and has become a landmark fixture in the development calendar.

The European Development Days bring every year the development community together to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. It is an inclusive and open setting: 80% of the EDD programme is organised by our stakeholders’ community.

Last year EDDs welcome more than 9000 participants over the 2 days forum, we expect 2019 edition to be as successful. Level of attendance has grown every year. This year, representatives from different walks of life will come to Brussels on 18 and 19 June 2019 to discuss, engage and take action to advance the realisation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. More particularly, the theme of the year will be “Addressing Inequalities: Building a World which Leaves No one Behind”.

How is your involvement in the European Development Days in Brussels? And what are the expectations of the Institution during those days?

Tackling inequalities is a priority which cuts across development policy objectives. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes the reduction of inequality one of the key objectives to be achieved by the international community. The Sustainable Development Goals’ core objectives are to seek to realise the human rights of all. Leaving no one behind is closely related to the concept of inclusive development and to inequality of opportunity and access, and requires putting the focus on those who are farthest behind, excluded and marginalised.

Given the theme of this year, “Inequalities “, we have been taking an active role in the preparation and identification of EDD workshops, stands and panel discussions on a range of human rights issues, including gender equality and women’s’ empowerment, non-discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, the rights of indigenous people, peoples’ participation in the elections, the rights of the child or else youth inclusion.

The European Commission staff, and particularly colleague from DG International Development and Cooperation, is mobilised during the European Development Days in different ways, be it as speakers in panel discussions, moderators or hosts or simply as participants to the event.

For the Institution, the EDD offer an opportunity to convene key stakeholders around our global priorities, develop new ideas for partnership and showcase successful and replicable projects.

It will be an exciting and busy two days where the voices of human rights and democracy will feature high in the agenda and be heard.

What is the importance that the European Commission gives to Education on Human Rights and Democracy? How is DEVCO supporting this type of education around the world?

As European Union, we are committed to ensure that human rights and democracy are championed across the globe. Human rights education is part and parcel of this endeavour.

The past three years, the EU supported approximately 40 initiatives for more than 22 million euros on Human Rights Education.

The Global Campus of Human Rights has a particular importance for the European Union. The European Union has been the main supporter of the European Master’s Program in Human Rights and Democratization, the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization and other similar regional programs, since 1997.

We are very proud of the more than 3000 graduates who work across the globe – from the classic human rights capitals such as New York or Geneva, to the most remote geographic location to promote human rights and democracy.

As the variety of the initiatives shows, Human Rights education can be promoted in different forms, in schools, in informal settings and can take very different forms, as it is illustrated by other EU supported activities, including for instance Cartooning for Peace, where human rights and freedom of expression are promoted through the work of cartoonists promoting the culture of peace and tolerance in various countries of intervention, from Turkey to Mexico.

Through its Development Education and Awareness Raising Programme (DEAR), the EU also supports global human rights education in the EU. I can, for instance, mention the capacity building of journalists and journalism students writing about issues such as migration, poverty and minorities. This action seeks to inform and make the public aware of global challenges in EU countries.

 What are the challenges do you think the EU Commission will need to address in the next years related to Human Rights?

Challenges such as geopolitical instability, conflicts, threats to security and climate change will put human rights and democracy to the test. The resurgence of nationalism and authoritarian regimes find fertile ground in this context trying to undermine democracy with repressive methods, curtailing human rights and fundamental freedoms, eroding the rule of law and the existence of checks and balances among state powers, aggravating inequalities and closing the space for civil society. More than ever, multilateral mechanisms for international problem-solving are under fire.

Against this background, it is more important than ever for the EU to be a global leader in the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy. In a world where a number of powerful international actors are no longer investing in promoting human rights and democratic values, and where the number of like-minded states is decreasing, the new financial horizon for the period 2021 – 2028 offers a unique opportunity to crystallise the EU’s leadership.

According to the proposal of the European Commission, the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument should safeguard all characteristics which currently allow the European Union to promote Human Rights and Democracy in the most difficult contexts. As regards Human Rights Education, it will continue to be a priority and the Global Campus of Human Rights remain one of our flagship projects.

Any comments about the theme of the EDD19 and its relation to the UN Global Goals?

The 2030 Agenda includes a specific goal, SDG 10, which is about “Reducing inequality within and among countries”, and encompasses different aspects of inequality, such as income inequality, inequality of opportunity, discrimination, as well as inequality between countries.

Beyond SDG 10, inequality permeates throughout the entire 2030 Agenda, as one of its key underlying principles is the commitment to take a rights-based approach to sustainable development and “leave no one behind”.

Leaving No one Behind is a core objective of the 2030 Agenda. It means that people – and addressing inequalities affecting them worldwide – should be at the centre of all we do.

This will only be achieved if we apply a human rights-based approach to our policies and programmes. This approach can be resumed in the application of five simple principles in all we do and fund. These principles are: applying all rights; non-discrimination; participation; transparency and accountability. This means that no one is left behind or discriminated, be it on grounds of ethnicity, gender, opinion, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender identity, migratory status or other factors.

Could you give a personal message to students and professors of the Global Campus of Human Rights, a network of 100 Universities supported by the EU that are our followers and reading this interview? How could they be inspired and encouraged by the EU DEVCO activities and funding?

The fact that the European Union has been championing this important project for more than 20 years, not only represents our continuous determination to uphold human rights and democracy but also the conviction of the crucial importance of investing in youth, in our graduates – the young human rights professionals of the future.

I am sure that I will encounter some of you in the years to come in your new professional capacity and I would be happy indeed to see you blossoming in your career and occupying key positions in the world: we need you as activists, lawyers, lobbyists, human rights defenders, officials of governments and international organizations, but also as politicians.

Wherever you go, whatever path you chose, stay true to your mission – we need you and the world needs you. Only a world respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law is a world worth living in; a world where nobody is left behind.