Thorbjørn Jagland

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Europe is entering a big election year. In 2017, voters in a range of countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and now possibly Italy, will go to the polls. We can expect campaigns fought on stark battle lines. Austerity policies and immigration will feature. So will the role of European institutions.

This is already evident in France, where the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights has found itself the subject of debate in the lead-up to the presidential election. The court was established after World War II, as part of the Council of Europe, to ensure that states uphold the European Convention on Human Rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Republic of Moldova — a tiny country of just 3.5 million people — is at risk of becoming Europe’s next security crisis, with potential consequences far beyond its borders.

A former Soviet Republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova sits at the crossroads between Europe’s East and West. Since it declared independence in 1991, power has alternated between the Communist Party, which has traditionally sought stronger ties with Russia, and pro-European parties that have staunchly advocated membership in the European Union.

In 2009, the pro-Europeans came to power and made progress toward their goal. They signed an association agreement to deepen political ties with Brussels and gradually integrate Moldova into the European common market.…  Seguir leyendo »

For two years running, the Norwegian Nobel committee peace prize has provoked worldwide controversy. In 2009, when President Obama won, people said it was too early, that he was yet to deliver, that he was commander in chief of armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year's prize – to the Chinese human rights activist Liu Xioabo – has met fierce opposition from the Chinese government.

The fact that reactions have been so strong proves how significant the Nobel decisions are. These choices reflect the dynamic that underpins the whole idea of the Nobel peace prize, and show consistency in honouring people who balance realpolitik and idealism: on the one side Obama, a true practitioner of the politics of the possible; and on the other hand Dr Liu Xiaobo, the outsider with a vision.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese authorities’ condemnation of the Nobel committee’s selection of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed political activist, as the winner of the 2010 Peace Prize inadvertently illustrates why human rights are worth defending.

The authorities assert that no one has the right to interfere in China’s internal affairs. But they are wrong: international human rights law and standards are above the nation-state, and the world community has a duty to ensure they are respected.

The modern state system evolved from the idea of national sovereignty established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. At the time, sovereignty was assumed to be embodied in an autocratic ruler.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe's human rights landscape is about to change. The accession of the EU to the European convention on human rights, made possible by the Lisbon treaty, will complete a cycle begun at the end of the second world war, when human rights visionaries drew up the first international texts and the Council of Europe began its work to establish the rule of law across the continent.

The EU will join a family of 47 European countries – including global players like Russia and Turkey – in a system that brings them all under the same legal standards, monitored by the same court.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le mois dernier, en Chine, le président américain, Barack Obama, a déclaré que les critiques émises sur Internet avaient fait de lui un meilleur président. Incontestablement, Internet rend nos dirigeants plus responsables et leurs actions plus transparentes que jamais.

En Finlande, une nouvelle loi donne aux citoyens un droit d’accès large bande à Internet et les discussions de l’Union européenne sur le «paquet Télécom» ont abouti à une décision selon laquelle, si c’est nécessaire et proportionné, l’accès d’un utilisateur à Internet peut être restreint mais uniquement au terme d’une procédure régulière et impartiale, respectant le droit à l’examen de sa cause et à un contrôle judiciaire.…  Seguir leyendo »