“Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. ( ... ) Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.” These were the words of Eleonor Roosevelt, who oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1947-48. The UDHR is a remarkable achievement as it has reflected a consensus among various nations with differing historical, religious, political, and cultural traditions. The UDHR has presented a vision that repels the excess of both individualism and collectivism and, at the same time, symbolizes the opening of a new era in which human rights have become the dominant mode of discourse.

Even though or precisely because of the remarkable achievements of the UDHR, there have been growing disagreements worldwide and especially within the Western world in the last decades as to what human rights are. The wide acceptance of the UDHR has led numerous special-interest groups to capture the moral force and prestige of the human-rights discourse and project for their own purposes. Emerging new and false claims of rights that distort the idea of inalienable rights along with the responsibility that are integral part of those rights, the shrinking role of subsidiarity that undermines the universality of this idea as well as the misconception of the role of national sovereignty all warrant reflection today.

The Mathias Corvinus Collegium and the Barna Horváth Hungary Law and Liberty Circle are proud to host the “Rescuing Our Inalienable Rights” international conference to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. The unique conference convenes world-renown professors, thinkers and scholars from nearly every legal culture to share their thoughts and own experiences on the most burning challenges the human rights system faces today, as well as on whether and how our inalienable rights can be rescued.

We welcome all those interested!




Opening remarks


Dr. Zoltán Szalai is the director general of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) and the Editor-in-Chief of the Mandiner weekly newspaper. He completed his university studies in Budapest, Pécs and Heidelberg, and obtained his humanities and language teacher's degree in German language and literature and then his doctorate degree at ELTE, and his master's degree in human resources consulting at the University of Pécs. He is the editor and author of numerous books and studies in Hungarian, German and English.


Dr. Réka Varga is the Associate Professor of Public International Law at Péter Pázmány Catholic University (Budapest) is a highly acclaimed expert of international law. She is a former Legal Adviser of the ICRC, former Legal Adviser and Head of International Law Department of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Chief Legal Adviser on international law in the Ministry of Justice of Hungary. Dr. Varga is member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.




He is the Head of the Center for International Law at MCC, Associate Professor of Law and the Head of the Barna Horváth Hungary Law and Liberty Circle. He is a graduate of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, where he received his J.D. and Ph.D. as well as of Canisius University (New York, U.S.A.) where he received his M.B.A. He previously served as a chief counsel at the Constitutional Court of Hungary and as an advisor at the European Parliament. He is the author of the book “Constitutional Journey in the United States”. His scientific research interests include international economic law, human rights law as well as the institutional arrangements and reform of the European Union.



She is a law student at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and researcher at the MCC Center for International Law. Her research topic aims to explore the role of national parliaments in the EU decision-making process.


She is a law student at Pázmány Péter Catholic University. She is also the professional coordinator of the MCC Center for International Law and a researcher at the Center for Criminal Law.



He is a French historian and political scientist. He is enrolled in a doctoral thesis in political science at the University of Paris Est-Créteil. His research is focused on the reaffirmation of politics in Europe through recent developments in Hungary.

Veronika KOROM

She is an assistant professor at Essec Business School (Paris and Singapore). She is the president of the Hungarian Arbitration Association. She acts as counsel in investment and commercial arbitration as well as arbitrator in commercial disputes.

Gabriella ÉRDI

She is a law student at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and the researcher of the MCC Center for Constitutional Politics. Her professional interests include sports law.


He is a law student at Pázmány Péter Catholic University. His professional interests are mainly pertaining to critical natural law studies of contemporary technologies and space law.


Charles KESLER

He is a Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University. He is the editor of the Claremont Review of Books, and the author of several books including the “Crisis of the Two Constitutions: The Rise, Decline, and Recovery of American Greatness”.


She is the Donald Phillip Rothschild Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. Professor Lerner works in the fields of U.S. and English legal history, civil and criminal procedure, and comparative law. She is the co-author of the book “History of the Common Law: The Development of Anglo-American Legal Institutions.”


He is a Professor at the University of California, Irvine. His work engages deeply with European philosophical and literary traditions. An Asian-American scholar of a European culture, he brings a distinct perspective to discussions of the humanities. He was a member of the Commission on Unalienable Rights chaired by Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon.


She is a Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore where she teaches and has published widely in the fields of public international law, human rights law, constitutional and administrative law. She is the author of “A Treatise on Singapore Constitutional Law” and she also co-authored “Constitutional Law in Malaysia and Singapore”.


He is a Professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. He teaches and writes in the area of legal history, criminal law and criminal procedure. His research has included such topics as capital punishment, search-and-seizure law or white-collar crime. His articles have appeared in the University of Chicago Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, the Texas Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, and many other journals.


Luca Pietro VANONI

Luca Pietro Vanoni is a Professor of Comparative Law at the University of Milan, where he teaches American Constitutional Law and Comparative Public Law.  He was a visiting research fellow at Notre Dame University. He is the Italian editor of the American Society of Comparative Law.


Gergely DELI

He is Rector of the University of Public Service and Professor of Law at the Széchenyi University, where he teaches Roman Law. He has previously served as a chief counsel to the Constitutional Court of Hungary and is the author of several books.

Thibault MERCIER

He is a French qualified lawyer based in Paris. He is the president and founder of the Cercle Droit et Liberté, the leading lawyers organization dedicated to promotion and defence of civil liberties in France. He is also a writer and a teacher at the Catholic University of Paris.


He is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law. He is the author of six books including a two-volume chronicle of Reagan and his times. He writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Claremont Review of Books and other publications.


He is a Professor of Law at Keio University Law School where he teaches constitutional law and human rights law. He has been a visiting professor at various French universities, and a visiting fellow at London School of Economics. Before joining the Keio University faculty, he was a professor of Public Law at Niigata University and Tohoku University.

Josephat KILONZO

He is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, a lecturer at Strathmore University, Kenya and a Junior Associate with Maendeleo Group- an Africa Focused Strategy.


He is a senior researcher and lecturer in EU law at Faculty of Law, Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic) and adjunct professor in strategic EU legal affairs at Taltech Law School (Estonia). His research interests include the protection of fundamental rights within the supranational system of law.


She is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Miskolc where she teaches public international law. She serves as the State Secretary responsible for the Environment and Circular Economy at the Ministry of Technology and Industry. She previously served as the State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.


He is a Professor of Law at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. He serves as Vice-President of the Section of Canon Law and Church-State Relations at the Spanish Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation. He is also the president of ICLARS (International Consortium on Law and Religion Studies). He is the author of many books including “Religion and Law in Spain”.


He is an Associate Professor of Political Studies and Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He previously served as Vice President of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General of Israel. He was a former peace negotiator with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinians and Syria. He is the author of numerous books on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the Supreme Court in Israel, Israeli history and public law.


He is a Professor of Law and former Dean of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University where he teaches constitution and canon law. He serves as a Justice at the Constitutional Court of Hungary. He was the chairman of the „European Consortium for Church and State Research”. His main field of interest is the constitutional law and the state regulation of churches.

Szilvia KŐBEL

She is an Associate Professor of Law at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church. Her field of expertise is constitutional law and the regulation of churches. In addition to her teaching role, she has engaged in research activities and expert roles related to state security archives, historical research, and church-state matters. Her multifaceted career reflects a profound commitment to legal academia and scholarly pursuits.

Krisztián KECSMÁR

He is a Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union. He previously served as a State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and at the European Commission. His field of expertise include competition law, state aid law and sports law. His is PhD candidate at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church.


He is a Professor of International Law at Uppsala University, specializing in international economic law, particularly international investment law, EU law, and German public law.He is also a senior fellow at the Walter Hallstein Institute of European Constitutional Law. He has advised, inter alia, European governments and international organizations, such as UNCTAD, on matters of reform of the current international investment law regime.

Michelle Q. ZANG

She is a senior lecturer of law at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeeland and a Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow. She specializes, publishes and teaches in international economic law and European law. Before joining VUW, she worked for the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO and King & Wood Mallesons, Beijing.

István VARGA

He is the Head of the Center for Private Law at MCC and Professor of Law at Eötvös Loránd University. He is Honorary Professor at the University of Leipzig, member of the ELI-UNIDROIT working group preparing the text of the forthcoming European Model Law on Civil Procedure as well as the editor and co-author of leading commentaries on civil procedure and arbitration.