AHRC, Ateneo Law host human rights forum with EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore
31 Mar 2023
The European Union Delegation to the Philippines, in partnership with the Ateneo School of Law and the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), hosted a short forum entitled “Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 75: Achievements, challenges and the way forward (A European Union perspective)” on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at the Justitia Room, Ateneo Professional Schools campus, Rockwell Makati. European Union (EU) Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Eamon Gilmore graced the event as the main speaker as part of his 3-day visit in the Philippines. Law students and faculty members attended the forum.
Gilmore's talk centered on the various human rights challenges that the world faces and how these challenges are being confronted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) since it was established in December 1948, or almost 75 years ago. He reflected that since the establishment of the UDHR 75 years ago, human rights abuses still linger in various societies in the world–ranging from military conflicts, gender inequality (such as how women are treated), and suppression of democratic rights- which are prevalent in some countries, such as Iran and Syria.
He also mentioned some pressing human rights issues in the Philippines, including extrajudicial killings of the infamous war on drugs and the ‘stigmatization’ against civil society, or what is popularly known as ‘red-tagging’. But with a highly globalized world where technology is advancing more rapidly as ever, Gilmore emphasized the important role that technology plays in addressing human rights issues especially in the context of preserving evidence essential to address human rights violations.
The European Union, according to Gilmore, is committed to to continue its strong relationship with the Philippines to ensure accountability and justice for those whose human rights have been violated, including the victims of the extrajudicial killings.
Gilmore concluded by emphasizing that human rights are not just about civil and political rights, but also encompass other rights, such as economic and social rights–that it is also about children who do not have access to education, laborers who fall victim to exploitation and low wages, among others. He stressed that by upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the intersectionality of human rights related issues are also addressed.
ALS Dean, Atty. Jose Maria Hofilena opened the event sharing the active role the Ateneo Law School community portrays in upholding human rights, He mentioned that the establishment of the Ateneo Human Rights Center within the Ateneo Law School three decades ago and its tireless works on human rights is a manifestation of the primacy that the Ateneo Law School places on human rights.
Among the reactors of the forum were Atty. Lizelle Tan (LLM student at ALS) and Atty. Anne Maureen Manigbas (faculty member at ALS). Atty. Tan raised a question on the reason for the existence of human rights violation which was clarified by Gilmore by reiterating that political power resulted in many human rights abuses in the world. Meanwhile, Atty. Manigbas echoed Gilmore that human rights must also be about socioeconomic rights.
Atty. Maria Patricia Cervantes-Poco, resident supervising attorney at the Ateneo Legal Services Center, synthesized the event and concluded with the role of the students as future lawyers and practitioners in upholding human rights.
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