Venice Statement “Towards a New Era for Human Rights” – Outcome of the Global State of Human Rights Conference

The Global Campus of Human Rights and Right Livelihood organised the third annual Global State of Human Rights Conference on 14-15 July 2023 in Venice, Italy. Convening some of the most important voices on human rights worldwide, we strategised on how to create momentum for a new era for human rights in face of the crises and challenges of today. The rich discussions inspired and encouraged us to develop a statement and call for action addressing the most pressing issues raised at the conference: accountability, climate justice, artificial intelligence, and building a resilient international human rights architecture.

As Global Campus and Right Livelihood, we now proudly present the Venice Statement with which we declare our commitment to forge a new era for human rights. It captures six core messages which stood out from the conference, and underlines the urgency of immediate and collective action to protect human rights and create a more equitable, sustainable, just, and peaceful world for present and future generations.

Read the statement here:


The conference edition of 2023 was a moment for us to reflect both on the past achievements of the global human rights system and how we need to readjust for the future, this year marking the 75 th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the 30 th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights . The conference day at our Global Campus Headquarters in Venice-Lido was attended by a range of high-level guests who reflected on various themes. It was opened by Veronica Gomez, Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Global Campus President, and Ole von Uexküll, Executive Director of Right Livelihood as co-organisers, as well as Erica Gerretsen, Director for Human Development, Migration, Governance and Peace at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships, close partner of the Global Campus since its inception.

The scene for the Global State of Human Rights was set by Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights. A first roundtable reflecting on 75 years UDHR and 30 years Vienna World Conference was moderated by Manfred Nowak, Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights and NGO Coordinator during the Vienna World Conference 1993, with the participation of Christian Strohal, Austrian Ambassador in charge of the Vienna World Conference, Margot Wallström, former Swedish Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner, and Marcia V. J. Kran, Member of the UN Human Rights Committee. “A human rights strategy to overcome today’s global and regional crises” was developed under the moderation of Veronica Gomez together with Volker Türk, Eamon Gilmore, Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Síofra O’Leary, President of the European Court of Human Rights, and Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia.


In the afternoon, a roundtable on the climate crisis and interlinkages between conflict, the environment and the rights of future generations, moderated by Ole von Uexküll, brought together Lotte Leicht, Chair of the Board of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Nnimmo Bassey, Right Livelihood Laureate and Chair of the Management Board of the Nigerian NGO Environmental Rights Action, Anna Ackermann, Board Member of the Ukrainian organisation EcoAction, and Neshan Gunasekera, Visiting Researcher at the University of Lund. The last roundtable on artificial intelligence was moderated by George Ulrich, Academic Director of the Global Campus of Human Rights, and benefitted from the expertise of Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Thérèse Murphy, Professor at Queen’s University Belfast and Global Campus Europe Chairperson, Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament and Lead Rapporteur of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act, Frans Viljoen, Director the University of Pretoria’s Human Rights Centre and Member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, and Lukasz Szoszkiewicz, Assistant Professor at Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan. Concluding words were held by Manfred Nowak and Amy Goodman, Right Livelihood Laureate and award-winning journalist and founder of Democracy Now!. Ravi Prakash Vyas, Assistant Professor at Kathmandu Law School and Member of the Global Campus Council served as the conference’s Rapporteur.


In cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Bureau in Venice and its Director Ana Luiza Massot-Thompson Flores, we also organised a panel discussion open to the Venetian public and hosted a concert of the Human Rights Band on the evening preceding the conference.

Linking the arts and human rights, we also used the occasion to turn the cloister of our Monastery of San Nicolò into an exhibition space: Global Campus alumni showed their inspiring photographic works on migration (“Departed” by Christian Vium) and different lives and stories from the Middle East (“Lebanon – In a State of Unrest” by Stephanie de la Barra, Rebecca Steinbichler and Marwa Bousthji).


Some visual impressions of the conference weekend here:



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