Europe’s Largest Human Rights Conference Begins in Warsaw
Monday, October 1, 2007 2:29 PM

Up to 1,000 international experts, government representatives and human rights defenders are in Warsaw to take part in the OSCE's 12th annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM).

Europe's largest human rights and democratization conference, the HDIM, which began on 24 September and will continue until 5 October, provides an opportunity for the OSCE's 56 participating States to review progress made in fulfilling their commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of assembly and association, conduct of democratic elections and protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism.

"It is the only such event where representatives of civil society sit with governments on an equal footing," said Ambassador Christian Strohal, Director of OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which is organizing the conference together with the Spanish OSCE Chairmanship. [For more information on the workings of the HDIM, see OSCE Background, below]

Numerous side events at the conference, many organized by non-governmental organizations, will address issues such as the human rights situation in specific countries, and problems faced by groups such as religious and national minorities.

The main topics of this year's meeting are gender aspects of security and the situation of Roma and Sinti in Europe, as well as non-discrimination, mutual respect and understanding. Moreover, the event will feature photo exhibitions highlighting the situation of migrant workers and victims of trafficking in the OSCE region.

The ODIHR also presented at the conference its report on hate-motivated incidents in the OSCE region during 2006. The report indicates that crimes motivated by hate are on the rise in many OSCE participating States, and that such incidents are becoming more violent.

"While the report is by no means a complete overview of all hate incidents in the OSCE region, it shows worrying trends," said Strohal. "Hate crimes are particularly aggravating and have a potential to threaten security and stability. I see this report as an important early-warning tool because it highlights areas where stronger responses to violent acts of hatred are needed."

The report, "Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses", is based on information from OSCE States as well as from international and non-governmental organizations. It gives examples of how states respond to hate-motivated incidents, and outlines the challenges that Governments and civil society face in this regard.

Journalists are invited to attend all regular working sessions and side events of the HDIM; for information, contact Urdur Gunnarsdottir in Warsaw: Urdur.Gunnarsdottir AT

Daily updates, interviews with participants and short summaries of events in English and Russian as well as other information will be available on the conference website:

© OSCE 1995–2007

Published in:  "Europe’s Largest Human Rights Conference Begins in Warsaw: HDIM 2007," Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), OSCE Highlights, 25 September 2007.