Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg has been a diligent advocate for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and identified it as one of his priority areas.
Hammarberg was elected Commissioner for Human Rights in 2005 by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. He took up his position on 1 April 2006, succeeding the first Commissioner, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles. Prior to his appointment, he spent several decades working on the advancement of human rights in Europe and worldwide. He has held the key posts of Secretary General of the Stockholm-based Olof Palme International Centre (2002-05), Ambassador of the Swedish Government on Humanitarian Affairs (1994-2002), Secretary General of “Save the Children” Sweden (1986-92), and Secretary General of the London-based Amnesty International (1980-86).
Hammarberg also held several special positions during these years. In 2001-03, he served as Regional Adviser for Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. For several years, he was the Swedish Prime Minister's Personal Representative for the UN Special Session on Children, as well as the Convener of the Aspen Institute Roundtables on ”Human Rights in Peace Missions”. Between 1996 and 2000, he was Kofi Annan's appointed representative (SRSG) for human rights in Cambodia. He also participated in the work of the Refugee Working Group of the multilateral Middle East Peace Process.
Over the past 25 years, Hammarberg has published widely on various human rights issues, particularly on children's rights, refugee policy, minority issues, xenophobia, Roma rights as well as international affairs and security. He is also well known for his presentations and lectures on human rights at various governmental and academic institutions.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (www.coe.int/commissioner) has identified the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT) as one of his priority areas. He regularly raises his concerns with the highest authorities, for example during his country assessment missions as well as in his Viewpoints ‘Gay Pride marches should be allowed – and protected’ (24 July 2006); ‘Homophobic policies are slow to disappear’ (16 May 2007); “Time to recognise that human rights principles apply also to sexual orientation and gender identity” (14 May 2008); “Discrimination against transgender persons must no longer be tolerated” (05 January 2009).
Commissioner Hammerberg will make his keynote speech at the Copenhagen conference on July 29 and the same day he will launch his “Issue Paper on the human rights of transgender persons” in a workshop at the conference. The paper is the outcome of an Expert Meeting he held in 2008 with transgender human rights activists and experts. After the launch, Commissioner Hammarberg will engage in a discussion with members of the LGBT movement, including representatives of Transgender Europe.