Campaigning for Democracy & Human Rights worldwide
Edward was European Parliament Vice-President for Democracy and Human Rights from 2004 – 2014 but his commitment to reform started well before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and remains focused on the world’s remaining dictatorships, from China to Cuba – and Russia. He is one of 8 Britons on Putin’s visa blacklist.
Shortly after his election as an MEP in 1984, Edward began working with dissidents and reformists in “difficult” countries worldwide. In 1990, Edward proposed a European Democracy Fund to assist the transformation of newly-free countries in East/Central Europe. By 1997 there were 1200 programmes across the region from Moscow to Belgrade.
Now the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights remains the world’s largest dedicated programme, with a current annual budget of over 1 billion.
The Arab Spring
Edward McMillan-Scott was the first democratically-elected politician to get to Cairo, the day after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. He has long advocated democratic and other reforms in the Arab world and has championed Egypt’s secular liberal party since 2004.
He is a relation of Lawrence of Arabia, the British officer who gathered the Arabs together to rebel successfully against Ottoman rule during World War I – the first “Arab Spring”.
As a Vice-President of the European Parliament, Edward led its diplomatic relations with the Arab world. He was co-chair of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, which brings together parliamentarians from the EU with their counterparts in the Arab world. It is the only such forum in which the Israelis participate. Edward was the first foreign politician to get to Cairo as the Arab Spring developed in 2011.
China’s death camps
Edward began to investigate reports of torture and the harvesting of body parts from live prisoners during a Beijing visit in 2006. There he first made contact with courageous reformers like ‘barefoot lawyer’ Gao Zhisheng. He has also supported a political boycott by leading EU figures of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and led Brussels’ increasing pressure on the Beijing regime. He also gave evidence to the London Tribunal on Organ Harvesting in 2020 and supported a political boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics because of crimes against humanity and genocide in China.