Joint efforts in favour of more human rights in Europe

Press release

Vienna, 26 Mai 2014 – A conference entitled “European Civil Society? History of the International Relations of Human Rights Leagues” brought together this weekend, for the first time, leading scientists and human rights activists from all over Europe for a joint examination of the history of human rights leagues in Europe. The two-day workshop organised by the Austrian League of Human Rights together with Vienna University’s Department of History discussed the interaction among human rights leagues at international level, looking at their differences and commonalities as well as the outstanding research requirements in this area.

“This highly scientific approach is of real relevance for society as a whole in a context of daily infringements of human rights. Cooperation and networking amongst the different European leagues remain immensely important for giving visibility to human rights and ensuring that they are anchored as a cross-cutting theme in society”, said the President of the Austrian League of Human Rights, Dr Barbara Helige.

Christopher Treiblmayr from Vienna University’s Department of History, an Austrian expert in the area of historical research into human rights, added that, “following the creation in 1898 of the first league of human rights in France, human rights leagues were set up in a series of other countries, yet so far there has been precious little research on the networks they form as part of a “European civil society”. The workshop supports our efforts to forge ahead with our research in this area”.

History of the Austrian League of Human Rights

Under the direction of Wolfgang Schmale (Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies), the history of the Austrian League of Human Rights has been the subject of a research project conducted by Christopher Treiblmayr (Department of History) since 2008. In addition to examining the latest research findings, the workshop also focused on the League’s international networking activities as part of a “European civil society”. Resources from Vienna University Library and the League’s archives as well as previously unknown Austrian, German, French and Russian archive material were used to shed light on the different periods of the human rights organisation’s activities, from its founding phase dominated by the Freemasons to its dissolution in 1938, with the persecution of many of its members during the Nazi era, and then its various activities under the Second Republic, such as its defence of gay rights.

Austrian League of Human Rights

The Austrian League of Human Rights fights for the implementation of, and respect for, human rights. It tackles topical issues, covering subjects that are relevant for human rights in the framework of various events and projects as well as through its public relations work. In addition, its Bureau provides a point of contact for anyone seeking advice regarding specific human rights concerns and also offers legal guidance.

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