Courses are scheduled to take place in Venice at the premises of the European Inter-University Centre in Human Rights and Democratisation over a period of 9 days. The courses are taught in English by internationally recognised experts in the fields of human rights belonging to EIUC’s partner universities and other organisations that support EIUC projects and endeavors.
The Opening Lectures of the School will be held by Michel Forst, current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Hauwa Ibrahim, human rights lawyer who won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize in 2005, Prof. Manfred Nowak, Professor at the University of Vienna and EIUC Secretary General, one of the most renowned human rights experts and by Andrew Anderson, member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York.
After this first session common to all participants, the programme will develop into the three thematic clusters - Business and Human Rights, Technical Progress and Human Rights and Violence against Women as Gender Based Violence. From ‘CEDAW’ To Istanbul And Beyond - among which participants will have to choose.
The first cluster, Business and Human Rights has been created because States, international organisations, companies and civil society usually agree that there is hardly any more important topic in a globalised world than business and human rights. Major companies contribute to human rights implementation with different methods and means following the set of Ruggie principles. However, there are still many open questions in particular how to connect the human rights implementation with successful business models meeting the necessities of global demands and local necessities. In 2015 there will be a new impetus towards transforming the Ruggie Principles into binding rules. The EU will discuss a new business and human rights agenda and the United Nations will use its mechanisms to clarify the content of existing obligations. Among the speakers of this cluster there will be also Heidi Anneli Hautala, currently a Member of the European Parliament and previously minister for international development and ownership steering issues in Finland from 2011 to 2013.
The second cluster is called Technical Progress and Human Rights: throughout history, there has always been a link between technical progress and human rights. The invention of printing was instrumental in achieving religious freedom and freedom of expression. The Enlightenment in Europe and the nineteenth century held the hold that the development of the sciences would contribute to man’s freedom. Today, the vision is more nuanced. With Hiroshima, distrust took hold and the success of the precautionary principle attests to this. The consequences of progress on human rights are appreciated in a more ambivalent way.
The purpose of this cluster is to take stock of the situation. To this end, two areas have been selected: medical progress and IT development. Modern medicine has resulted in a remarkable increase in the length and quality of life. But developments in the field of procreation have caused us to question our view of filiation and of the family more generally. The existence of advanced and expensive medical technologies underlines the problem of equal access to health care. As for computer science, the trend of general access to data encroaches on the sphere of private life and individual freedom when this data is used for social control purposes.
A thorough study of these issues will be facilitated through lectures and practical seminars. An in-depth analysis will be conducted on the topic of health care access which will be compared to intellectual property and on the answers that the EU tries to provide with the collection of information in order to fight against crime and terrorism.
The third cluster is called Violence against Women as Gender Based Violence, from ‘CEDAW’ To Istanbul And Beyond: violence against women (VAW) still remains as one of the most pervasive human rights violations of our time. It represents the most common example of Gender-based violence (GBV). It constitutes an extensive human rights abuse that transcends continents, countries and cultures. It inflicts great harm and suffering on millions of individuals worldwide, as violence that is directed against girls and women because of their sex or that affects them disproportionately. Deeply rooted in stereotypes and widespread social practices, VAW reinforces gender inequalities and causes devastating damage to victims. Violence against women not only prevents its victims from enjoying their rights and leading a violence- and fear-free life, but it also erodes the very fabric of entire societies.
GBV includes any violent acts that are performed against someone who is discriminated against on the basis of their self or otherwise perceived gender identity and therefore it can refer to many kinds of violence and many kinds of victim: against women or girls, in general; against gay men or lesbian women; against intersex or transgender people, as can be seen in the Yogyakarta Principles, 2006. This year the Cluster will focus on violence against women (VAW). Because this is the most pervasive case of GBV worldwide, this expression is often used as synonymous of VAW, just as ‘Gender Equality’ is mostly used in the sense of equality between men and women.
Although significant progress has been achieved, GBV is still an under-reported phenomenon, far from being eradicated. All current and future national and international policy agendas need to take this reality into account. The cluster will provide a state of the art critical appraisal on GBV and stimulate reflection on key challenges worldwide. Participants will have the opportunity to refine their knowledge on both empirically and theoretically informed analyses. They will also have the opportunity to hold informed discussions with leading scholars and decision-makers.
Very notable speakers of this clusters will be Dubravka Šimonović, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations since May 1998 and Leyla Yunus, Azerbaijani human rights activist who serves as the director of Institute of Peace and Democracy.
EIUC in the framework of its Venice School will contribute to the process by bringing together politicians, businessmen, academia and civil society discussing the hot topics of the BHR-agenda. The week from June 24 to July 2 will in presentations, workshops and discussions highlight avenues for the a better grounding of the topic in business and politics alike taking into account the requirements of productions cycle, trade, investments etc.
The Venice School is aiming at developing a new regular platform for business and human rights which can be used to exchange views in a new format using the competencies and global network of the Global Campus and EIUC.