Introduction with Hillel Neuer

International lawyer, diplomat and Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer delivers opening remarks at the 4th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.

Full remarks

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, my name is Hillel Neuer. I’m the Executive Director of UN watch. I have the honour and pleasure, on behalf of our coalition of 20 human rights NGOs from around the world, to welcome you to the fourth annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Gathered with us today are human rights heroes from around the world. They are courageous men and women who have sacrificed their liberty, many of them at great personal cost, as you will hear, for the cause of universal human rights, for the cause of human dignity, for the cause of human freedom. We have brave human rights defenders with us here today from China, Burma, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Syria. Many, I would say most, have been in prison, have been tortured, some of them were released only weeks ago. You will hear their stories, and we’re not just here to listen, but to plan action and today we will be finalizing draft resolutions for the United Nations Human Rights Council which meets across the street in its main annual session and we are preparing several draft resolutions for the United Nations to adopt.

I have the honour now to introduce – I want to say a few words about him before I invite him up to the dais. One of these human rights heroes, someone who has stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the struggle for human rights. Someone who is a passionate and inspiring activist. His name is Dr. Yang Jianli. He is a veteran pro-democracy activist from China. He left his native country to study mathematics at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1989, he was selected by Berkeley graduate students to travel to Beijing to support the Chinese students protesting for democracy in Tiananmen Square and he witnessed the horrific events that occurred in that place. He managed to escape. He returned to the United States to complete his doctorate in political economy at Harvard University. In 2002, he returned to China to investigate labor unrest in the northern region. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to five years imprisonment for quote-unquote ‘spying.’ Following an international outcry for his release, Dr Yang was freed in 2007. Afterward, he returned to America he established Initiatives for China, an organization dedicated to democracy in China and he is the co-author of A Constitution for Democratic China and we have, I personally have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Yang, here in Geneva, and at the United Nations in New York, at a number of key moments in calling on the United Nations to fulfill its duty and uphold human rights for victims in China and around the world. Without further ado, I have the honor to call up to deliver the opening speech for the fourth annual Geneva Summit Dr. Yang Jianli.



Speakers and Participants


Human Rights

Beyond the Arab Spring with Ebrahim Mehtari, Maikel Nabil, Tom Gross

A panel including journalist and commentator specializing in the Middle East and human rights, Tom Gross; Iranian activist who was arrested, jailed, tortured, and physically abused by the Iranian Regime after taking part in the Green Movement demonstrations of 2009, Ebrahim Mehtari; and an Egyptian blogger and political activist, Maikel


Opening Address with James Kirchick

James Kirchik, journalist, author, and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the universality of human rights: “Don’t let anyone tell you that certain cultures are immune to democracy or individual