Fences, walls and trenches: free movement as a human right?

International conference in honour of the winner of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2016

Prague Crossroads, October 12, 2016

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8.30–9.00 Registration


  • Interview with Václav Havel Human Rights Prize finalists

“The only lost cause is one we give up on before we enter the struggle.”

Summer Meditations, 1991


  • Michael Žantovský - executive director, the Library of Vaclav Havel (Czech Republic)


  • Gordana Igric – journalist and activist (Serbia)
  • Nadia Murad  Basee - activist (Iraq)
  • Sébastien Touzé – Fondation René Cassin – International Institute of Human Rights


Keynote speech by the Rector of CEU

  • Michael Ignatieff – president and rector, Central European University (Hungary)


  • Panel I: East of Eden

"The idea that a person can rewrite his biography is one of the traditional self-deceptions of Central Europe."

The Salzburg Festival, Salzburg, July 26, 1990 


  • Martin Palouš – diplomat and teacher, Florida International University (United States of America)


  • Ales Bialitski – chairman, the Human Rights Center Viasna (Belarus)
  • Anar Mammadli – human rights activist (Azerbaijan)
  • Saso Ordanoski – journalist (Macedonia)
  • Gordana Igric – journalist and activist (Serbia)

11.35 – 11.55

Special Appearance

  • Nadia Murad  Basee – activist (Iraq)

11.55–13.00  Lunch


  • Panel II: Brexit: who lost the United Kingdom?

"The demons that so fatally affected European history  most disastrously in the twentieth century!  are biding their time. It would be a tragic error to forget about them because of some technicalities over funds, quotas or tariffs."

Europe as a Task, Aachen, May 15th, 1996


  • Michael Žantovský – executive director, the Library of Vaclav Havel (Czech Republic)


  • Eva Jiřičná – architect and designer (UK)
  • Tomáš Prouza – State Secretary for European Affairs (Czech Republic)
  • Martin Woollacott – journalist, the Guardian (UK)


  • Panel III: Openness or closeness of the EU

"The task of politicians is not just to carry out the will of voters and perhaps repeat their delusions so as to win them over, but also to lead and to fight against their delusions. Even with the risk that next time they won’t get elected."

Interview with Václav Havel for the revue Kavárna A.F.F.A., no. 4/95


  • Daniela Drtinová – journalist, DVTV (Czech Republic)


  • Ondřej Liška – activist (Czech Republic)
  • Montserrat Feixas Vihe – UNHRC Regional Representative for Central Europe (Hungary)
  • Sebastien Touze – Institut international des droits de l´homme (France)
  • Aleksander Kaczorowski – author and editor in chief, Aspen Review Central Europe (Poland)


Closing remarks

  • Karel Schwarzenberg – member of Parliament (Czech Republic)

Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„Once you’re here, however, whether you want to or not, you have to ask the question: does all of this have a meaning, and if so, what?… Ultimately, I can only find an answer – a positive answer – within myself, in my general faith in the meaning of things, in my hope. What, in fact, is man responsible to? What does he relate to? What is the final horizon of his actions, the absolute vanishing point of everything he does, the undeceivable “memory of Being”, the conscience of the world and the final “court of appeal”? What is the decisive standard of measurement, the background or the field of each of his existential experiences? And likewise, what is the most important witness or the secret sharer in his daily conversations with himself, the thing that – regardless of what situation he has been thrown into – he incessantly inquires after, depends upon, and toward which his actions are directed, the thing that, in its omniscience and incorruptibility, both haunts and saves him, the only thing he can trust in and strive for? “

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, August 7, 1980

What Price Human Rights?