The Baltic States and Human Rights in Europe: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Friday, June 1, 2018

6:00 pm

McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center Map

Sponsored by:
Stanford University Libraries

Join us for the opening reception of the 2018 AABS Conference at Stanford University: The 100th Anniversary of Baltic Independence, featuring a keynote talk by Dr. Nils Muižnieks:

The Baltic States and Human Rights in Europe: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Historically, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have stood out in the European human rights landscape not only for what was done to them but occasionally for what they did as well. In the early interwar years, when only certain elements of the European human rights system existed, Estonia was a frontrunner for minority rights. The non-recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states by many Western countries and the efforts of Baltic exiles to sustain this policy contributed to the development of international law and can serve as an example to contemporary Ukrainian efforts vis-à-vis Crimea. During the Soviet era, Lithuanian activists in defense of freedom of religion imprinted the Baltic brand vividly on the map of Soviet dissent. In the waning years of the Soviet Union, all three Baltic independence movements led the broader push to assert freedom of expression, assembly, and association, as well as the right to free elections. 
After regaining independence, Estonia and especially Latvia became among the most common destinations for international minority rights monitoring missions. In more recent years, the Baltic states have diverged in a positive manner from some other Central and East European countries in their human rights trajectory. There have been no “pilot judgments” at the European Court of Human Rights from the Baltic states indicating systemic or structural problems. There has been none of the serious backsliding seen in contemporary Poland and Hungary that has evoked labels such as a “rule of law crisis.” As opposed to most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic states have all exhibited European solidarity in refugee relocation and resettlement. Moreover, all three Baltic states have become safe havens for persecuted activists, journalists, and cultural figures from Russia and Belarus. As the Baltic states celebrate their centennial, they are well-poised to further develop a positive Baltic human rights “brand.” 
This talk will examine how the Baltic states stood out in the incipient human rights system of the League of Nations. Then it will take a look at the Baltic contribution to human rights during the Soviet years. Finally, the talk will assess the place of the Baltic states in the contemporary European human rights system and the potential of developing a positive Baltic human rights “brand” in contrast to some of other serious human rights backsliders in Central and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Nils Muižnieks was elected to serve as the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights from April 2012 through March 2018. Prior to becoming Commissioner, he held a number of leadership positions, including chair of the Council of Europe’s independent racism-monitoring body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2010-2012); director of the University of Latvia’s Advanced Social and Political Research Institute (2005-2012); and Minister of Social Integration in the Latvian government (2002-2004). He has published widely on human rights, racism, and Baltic and international affairs. He is a Latvian national who was educated in the United States, where he received a BA in politics summa cum laude from Princeton University and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.

The keynote talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a reception. A display of recent Baltic publications will also be showcased at the event.

Friday, June 1, 2018
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
McCaw Hall, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center Map

This is a ticketed event. To register for this or other events of the 2018 AABS Conference program, please visit the 2018 AABS Conference website. 


Lecture / Reading Humanities 

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