Topics: Peace and Human Rights
International Relations
Regional focus: Europe
Origin: France
Fellowship: Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow

Harlem Désir is a French politician, who served as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media from 2017 to 2020. In this function, he provided early warnings on violations of freedom of expression and the media, and promoted full compliance of the 57 OSCE participating states with media freedom commitments. He currently serves as the International Rescue Committee's Senior Vice President, Europe.

From 2014 to 2017, Désir was French Minister of State for European Affairs in the foreign ministry. During his tenure, Désir was involved in numerous European negotiations, in particular those of the Paris Climate Agreement, on migration policy, and youth employment. He represented France at numerous international meetings, including the UN General Assembly, the Council of Europe, and the UN Human Rights Council.

From 1999 to 2014, Désir was a Member of the European Parliament. He was a member of the Committee on Industry, Energy and Research; the Employment and Social Affairs; and the Committee on Development. From 2012 to 2014, Désir served as First Secretary of the French Socialist Party.

Besides his political career, Désir is engaged in civil society activities. He is the founding president of the French NGO “SOS Racisme”, and recently, he was the Executive Director of the Forum on Information & Democracy, an international NGO.

Désir holds a Bachelor's Degree in philosophy from the Paris I Sorbonne University. He has been awarded the Olof Palme Prize (Sweden, 1990), the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix (Greece, 2016), and the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Germany, 2018).

Last updated: 2021