Gummersbach, Hamburg. Images are turning increasingly more dramatic: regions flooded by storms while harvests are devastated by catastrophic droughts. Tropical rainforests are considered “the world’s lungs”, but are being axed without restrictions. Flora and fauna gradually lose their habitat. The public is being alerted by scientists, politicians and mass media, but a harmonized international climate protection is not making any progress. Could it be that – pursuing a deep desire for progress and prosperity – mankind resembles lemmings, which in their headless advancement jump from the cliff?
Twenty-two international leaders made the trip to Germany invited by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, in order to find effective answers to face the climate change challenges. They showed interest in a scientific debate regarding the causes for climate change; possibilities to reconcile climate protection with a growth and prosperity focused policy; answers from liberalism concerning climate change; and Germany’s specific experiences regarding climate protection.
In spite of the enormous discrepancies relating to the situation in their countries of origin, the broad discussions showed that centralism, consumer restraint and ban regulations are not being effective in stopping the increasing overexploitation of nature. Rather just the adherence to liberal values and principles allows to contain the progressive deforestation, ensure soil quality and biodiversity, and to adjust to changing rainfall rates and extreme weather conditions, as well as reduce pollution.
The seminar depicted scientific approaches concerning causal research and projections on global warming. With regard to the media coverage, discussions differentiated between well-founded news and frequently unproven claims. The components of the worldwide famous “German Energy Transition” (Deutsche Energiewende), its economic repercussions and perspectives of success, as well as the European CO2 emission trading system were analyzed in order to establish their exemplary character for other countries and regions. Further detailed reflections were made concerning the way climate protection stands in contrast to other hindrances in development on all of the various continents.
Discussions were supported by visits to relevant German institutions, such as the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, as well as to Wilhelmsburg, a town quarter in Hamburg, which showcases models for the decentralized use of renewable energy and energy-efficient architecture within the International Building Exhibition (Internationale Bauausstellung).
More than 90 statements regarding climate protection emerged from the debate held around liberalism and climate protection. Among them, an assessment that indicates that although international climate protection negotiations are important, they de facto won’t yield the desired results. Centralized governmental actions are almost ineffective to control such problems. Therefore, regarding climate protection, liberalism commits on participation, decentralization and subsidiarity for citizen-centered solutions of environmental problems. For liberals, the main focus lies on safeguarding private property rights, since only a private owner has a vested interest in preventing soil and resource damages.
Liberalism focuses its efforts on the enforcement of good governance by means of logically acting institutions, so that potential solutions are not thwarted by corruption and inefficiency. Finally, liberalism promotes competition and progress, as the entailed process and product optimization will allow for climate protection and – at the same time – an increase in prosperity.
A more detailed paper on the results of this program will be coming soon.
by Bettina Solinger and Rainer Heufers
21. Juni 2013
Strasbourg. The eight representatives of Legal and Human Rights Organisations (and SALAN member organizations) from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania travelled to Strasbourg on invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom to gain an understanding of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“An eye for an eye” proclaims the Old Testament, which serves as the argument to shut down all discussions on the abolition of the death penalty in contemporary Catholic-dominated southern African states. However, EU officials proclaiming that the death penalty is not in accordance with “western values” and must be abolished as part of conditionality agreements is an imposition, not a strategy either. Europeans tend to forget what the representatives of the Southern African Legal Assistance Network (SALAN) were relieved to learn: that the death penalty was once admissible under the European Convention on Human Rights and that it took decades and public education to change European norms and values and for it to be legally abolished throughout Europe.
The eight representatives of Legal and Human Rights Organisations (and SALAN member organizations) from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania travelled to Strasbourg on invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom to gain an understanding of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). They met with experts of the Council’s Committees and Commissions to discuss a variety of topics, ranging from racism and intolerance, gender equality and violence against women, prison conditions, and corporate social responsibility to more technical issues, s.a. constitutional matters, compliance and enforcement of rulings.
Former President of the European Court of Human Rights and current President of the International Institute of Human Rights, Jean-Paul Costa stressed that it is primarily thanks to the political will of the 47 member states that the court rulings are implemented. The ECHR has therefore been much more successful when it comes to implementation of its ruling than other regional or even international courts. Measures against non-compliant states are almost never needed and the courts’ decisions are accepted as final. This is in stark contrast to their home states, one of the participants said, where the government often does not even respect the rulings of domestic courts.
In a meeting at the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Angelika Nußberger, appointed to the ECHR by Germany, discussed the European Convention on Human Rights, as the basis of jurisdiction of the Court, the rules of proceedings and gave insight into the Courts’ activities and precedent rulings. She particularly highlighted two special features of the ECHR. So-called “pilot judgements” in which judgements of the ECHR serve as precedents, such that the Court’s decision in one case can be the basis for implementation in all like cases across member states and Rule 39, a specific “instrument for immediate action” developed by the Court to take action in cases of extradition to countries where the individual may be subjected to the death penalty of inhumane treatment.
Olena Petsun from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the preventive role of the Commissioner, s.a. promoting education, awareness and respect for human rights in member states and ensuring the member states’ compliance with the Council’s instruments. Sonia Sirtori-Milner and Sonia Parayre from the Secretariat of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men and the Division on Gender Equality and Violence against Women, respectively, addressed the aspects of human rights related to gender and sexual orientation. A meeting with Stephanos Stavros from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and Charlotte de Broutellesfrom the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) concluded the study tour.
The Southern African Legal Assistance Network has been a long-standing partner of the FNF. Find out more about SALAN on their website.
21 Juni 2013
Halle/Saale. The recently nationwide instituted “German Development Day” (Deutscher Entwicklungstag, DET) was established by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Organizations, entities and associations, all related in very varied forms to the German development work, were present in 16 different locations throughout the federal states. In Halle/Saale, the stand of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom was honored by the visit of international guests. The Foundation was also present in Berlin.
As a cooperation between the International Leadership Academy (IAF) and the Foundation’s Regional Office for Central Germany, a special visitor program for four participants in Halle was recently held; the visitors attended afterwards an IAF seminar.
Under the conduction of Arno Keller, Thomas Walters, Cecilia Margaret Kok (both from South Africa), Waleed Mahmoud Mansour (Egypt), and Ahmad Noor Amin (Malaysia) arrived Friday afternoon in Halle and had at first the opportunity to take a tour through the city of Halle located in Saxony-Anhalt.
Wolfram Neumann, attaché for economy and science in Halle, welcomed the group at the elegant City Hall building (Stadthaus) and gave an impressive speech about the history and evolution of his city. Later, the guests climbed 196 steps to reach the twin towers of the St. Marien Market Church (Marktkirche St. Marien) at the heart of the city, and enjoyed an excellent view of the former Hanseatic city of Halle, on the Saale riverbank.
The next program activity was a visit to the “Red Ox” (Roter Ochse) memorial, a former penitentiary of the Nazi Regime (1933-1945) and a prison used by the GDR secret police (Stasi).
Dr. Andrè Gursky, director of the institution, did not hide the fact that cruel conditions prevailed during the course of the two dictatorships, and that behind those walls many – also political – prisoners suffered terrible abuses. Until now, a coping with the past process continues. Some victims still wait for rehabilitation; some perpetrators use the legal means currently valid in a rule-of-law regime to defend themselves, e.g., to prevent their names from being publicly mentioned in the exhibition.
All the above noticeably impacted and shocked the participants.
At the dinner held later, a vivid exchange of ideas and thoughts took place with four members of the FDP city bench. Gerry Kley, the parliamentary group leader, promoted his city as a science and technology location. He criticized the policy of the recently elected non-party metropolitan mayor, who – in his opinion – wastes many opportunities to achieve a greater development of the city.
As the conversation developed, a discussion arose about the different existing local policy structures, the various approaches on environmental policy in the four countries – Germany, Malaysia, Egypt and South Africa – and Islam and politics.
The primary reason of the visitor program focused on providing assistance at the Foundation stand on the occasion of the German Development Day (DET); it took place during the entire Saturday, jointly with other 33 organizations and entities at Halle’s marketplace.
Arno Keller, a former and well versed international employee, promoted the Naumann stand and presented in a professional and powerful manner the work the Foundation performs abroad. Many citizens took the opportunity to exchange thoughts with the four liberals from three countries. The scarce knowledge about the international work of the political foundations became evident; nonetheless, the genuine representation the main actors in their respective countries exert generated great compliments.
Waleed Mahmoud Mansour, a member of the “Free Egyptian Party”, explained that the Arabian spring stagnates, but that nowadays – also thanks to the German support – many democratic and liberal organized forces exist to sustain hope. As a representative of the younger generation, he has a very optimistic perspective of the Arabian future.
Thomas Walters, an assemblyman of the “Democratic Alliance” in one of the regional South African parliaments, explained to the interested citizens of Halle the political system in his country and the way it has positively and significantly changed for the better in the last 20 years. While there is still a lot to do in the country, South Africa already features a developed democracy with good future prospects. He repeatedly emphasized the excellent and efficient cooperation with the Foundation, which should not stop in the future.
Cecilia Margaret Kok, who speaks excellent German and could manage to communicate without being assisted by an interpreter, made supplementary contributions to her fellow countryman, and as a Foundation’s employee, exactly depicted all the onsite tasks her Johannesburg office performs.
Ahmad Noor Amin also participated in numerous conversations held at the FNF stand and did not waste any opportunity to hand out Foundation brochures and gimmicks.
Another presentation of the Foundation team was held at the main stage in front of a big audience; during the course of interviews, each one of the four participants highlighted that they consider the approach in terms of development policy the Foundation applies extremely positive: partnership cooperation instead of direct interference.
This program was overall a successful debut, and should be an example for future presentations during the commemoration of the German Development Day.
Our gratitude goes not only to the four visitors who traveled from far away and to the Foundation colleagues in their respective countries, but also to the IAF staff in Gummersbach and the Regional Office for Central Germany, who jointly rendered this special program possible.
Director, FNF Regional Office for Central Germany
6. Juni 2013