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Secretary's report for the UK Section's Annual General Meeting 2012


Among the highlights of our well-attended lunchtime meetings over the past year was an illuminating session in January with guest speaker Professor Michael O’Flaherty, deputy chair of the UN Human Rights Committee and the main author of its landmark 2011 report which called for all UN states to amend their laws and practices radically so as to comply with their binding obligations to uphold media freedom and to protect journalists from targeted attacks. Another very stimulating meeting was in September with Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. He has also written a book about Afghanistan, Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, expressing his very interesting views on the situation there and which he elaborated on at our meeting.

In 2012 we had 42 members, plus 6 honorary members, and the officers of the Committee were:

  Chairman: William Horsley

  Secretary: Margaret Hughes

  Treasurer: Mike Springate

Though not part of the elected Committee, Celia Hampton is the AEJ-UK Website Manager and David Lennon is the Events Director. David was also elected an International Vice-President at the AEJ International Congress in October 2012.

We had a good turnout at our regular lunchtime meetings in 2012, which I hope will continue this year. Our meetings in 2012 were held with the following guests:

Professor Michael O’Flaherty, deputy chair of the UN Human Rights Committee

HE Giorgi Badridze, Georgia's Ambassador to the UK and Ireland

Christopher Graham, UK Information Commissioner

Misha Glenny, journalist, author, broadcaster and authority on international organised crime, including cybercrime

Matthew Fell, Director for Competitive Markets at the Confederation of British Industry

Jacques Reland, Senior Research Fellow specializing in French political affairs,Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel

Dr Spyros Economides, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and European Politics, LSE, Deputy Director of the Hellenic Observatory

Sharon Bowles MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

HE Mr Ünal Çeviköz, Turkish Ambassador to the UK



2013 meetings

After today’s meeting with Dr Peter Duncan, Senior Lecturer on Contemporary Russia, UCL, our next speaker will be the Emma Reynolds MP, Shadow Minister for Europe, on Monday 25 March.

There will be no lunchtime meetings in February as the EU premises are not available to us during that month. For future events, we would welcome suggestions from our members for future speakers.

Other highlights

The AEJ UK Chairman William Horsley once again worked with Reuters and the Society of Editors to organise a major debate on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2012, about the UK government’s controversial proposals to trim the powers of the European Court of Human Rights and the popular campaign to “bring human rights home”. The debate underlined the important role of the European Court in protecting free expression and free media across Europe.

Under the Section’s journalism students support programme, over the past year AEJ UK has invited several students and budding journalists to attend our lunchtime meetings free of charge. One of them, Richard Wordsworth, wrote an insightful blog on the AEJ UK website after his lengthy stay in Moscow about the cynical attitudes of young people in Russia on politics and the country’s leadership.

The new "Blogs and Briefings" section of the AEJ UK website has also carried several other original items of topical interest. These include one from Firdevs Robinson, who earlier in the year participated in an AEJ International facility trip to Cyprus, on the impasse over Cyprus as it prepared to take over the rotating EU presidency. She also wrote one on Turkey’s Syria conundrum. And there are William Horsley’s words of advice to the new BBC Director-General to stand up for free expression and free reporting in the face of growing censorship and attempts to curtail the media’s independence in more than half the countries of the world.

And, if you have not done so already, you should sign up for the members-only section of and, of course, visit the UK website on, which Celia regularly updates.

As I have mentioned before, the European Parliament is also keen for our members to subscribe to their event newsletter by entering your email address on their website which will give you automatic information about events that they are planning.


Margaret Hughes, Secretary AEJ UK

21 January 2013



Minutes of the Annual General Meeting

Chairman's report