(Source: Conference of European Churches)
Challenges for human rights in the times of COVID-19 was a theme sharp in focus at the 7th virtual Summer School on Human Rights. The event gathered over 130 participants including church leaders, academics, experts from the international organisations and the European institutions from across Europe in a series of webinars held from 7 to 10 July 2020.
The event was organised by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) together with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and with support from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, among other CEC Member Churches.
CEC’s 7th Summer School was earlier planned to take place in Berlin, but was transformed into an online event taking into consideration the consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is precisely in times of crisis that respect for human rights, democratic life and the rule of law must prove their worth,” said Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber from EKD.
“Since their protection does not only need political institutions and legal instruments but also attentive citizens, it is us – you and me – who bear responsibility – in our Churches as well as in public life in general.”
“As Churches, our ongoing task is to address structural inequalities, build bridges and listen the voice of the oppressed,” said Metropolitan Emmanuel of France.
“I also want to express my deep concern about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers that are in a fragile situation, thus not always being able to practice the health recommendations that are essential to stop the spreading of the coronavirus.”
“If we want to ensure the protection of our European values, we need to work on that, very hard, together with civil society, businesses and companies, and all the stakeholders of the Article 17 of the EU Lisbon Treaty,” Metropolitan Emmanuel added.
“In the time of COVID-19, masks are a symbol of shared responsibility for one another, which reflects the Christian and democratic value of human life,” said Rev. Dr Leslie Nathaniel of the Church of England.
“This year’s Summer School took quite a different shape from what we planned just a few months ago,” said CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen. “I am pleased that through an innovative and creative approach EKD and CEC staff managed to offer an event focussing on issues that concern our Member Churches in context of COVID-19 drawing more participants than before.”
The webinars held sessions on “Do not wash your hands from Democracy: Human Rights and Rule of Law obligations during COVID-19,” presenting case studies related to challenges for CEC Member Churches in the time of COVID-19 related to Freedom of Religion or Belief and other fundamental rights.
The webinars conducted training on reporting hate crimes using Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mechanisms.
The participants also discussed #Faith4Rights toolkit by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as topics related to monitoring the rule of law, rights of minorities and experience of young people.
The participants came from CEC Member Churches, both lay and ordained, theologians, scholars, church practitioners, members of other religious communities, and young people and students.
The CEC Summer School on Human Rights is held each year since 2013 to raise awareness and to enhance the personal and professional skills of its participants.