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International Human Rights Day

- Deliberations in the light of the Lisbon Treaty -


Recently, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force.

The Treaty is supposed to provide the European Union with modern institutions and optimised working methods to tackle both efficiently and effectively today's challenges. Allegedly, Europeans are now able turn to the EU to address issues such as globalisation, climatic changes, security and energy etc.. Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon is expected to reinforce democracy in the EU and its capacity to promote the interests of its citizens on a day-to-day basis.

But is that really so?

Hardly, if one considers the numerous opt outs to the treaty (e.g. UK, Ireland, Poland, Denmark and Czech Republic). The most striking one is the one made by the Czech Republic. The exception gives the latter an opt out from the charter of fundamental rights that is attached to the Lisbon Treaty, so as to be protected from property claims from ethnic Germans who were expelled after World War II.

Purportedly, human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable. They are the cornerstone that makes our society a civilisation. However, these principles always appear to be under pressure and are abridged, for the sake of other questionable political goals.

 With such opt out possibilities the EU implicitly tolerates human rights violations, in particular forced evictions, ethnic cleansing and mass confiscations, thereby bluntly disregarding customary international law. For centuries international and international humanitarian law have battled for the respect of private property during and after conflicts of war (cf. Hague Convention on the laws of war, Nuremberg Charter, Pinheiro Principles etc.).

The Czech Republic’s opt out, has seriously damaged restitution efforts in this area. It defies international Conventions, principles and resolutions. Furthermore, it disregards the will of hundreds of thousands of European citizens which have submitted petitions to the European Parliament requesting an adequate solution to pre- and post-war property confiscations.

In line with the European Court of Human Rights which conveniently claims it is ratione temporis not competent to consider past human rights violations the European Union perpetuates injustice by accepting such exemptions and insisting on articles like art. 295 EC Treaty (today art. 345 Lisbon Treaty), which in consequence violates it own principles and treaties. Both institutions are responsible for sustaining the continuation of wrongful acts in the sense of the UN document A/CN4.L602 (Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts).

The aforementioned clearly shows that the European Union only promotes certain interests and is therefore susceptible to blackmail by Member States. Instead of a sovereign institution with a sound foundation, it resembles more a cheap self-service discounter, which is overwhelmed and permanently exposed to unrelenting greedy clients (i.e. Member States) which pick and choose goods (i.e. exemptions and conditions) at their free discretion.

Thus, the so-called ‘European dream’, which intends the ‘European Union to be a beacon of civilisation in the world, a role model in respecting human rights’, which requires ‘serious control mechanisms within the EU as well as a foreign policy that consistently promotes human rights beyond Europe’s borders’, has plainly been reduced to a bloated institution, garnished with incompetence and hypocrisy.

What a bitter disappointment.

Alexandra Mareschi


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