“Our rights, our freedoms, always”: Human Rights Day 2015

“Today, we face new, evolving and alarming issues such as climate change, terrorism, the growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, curbs on freedom of speech and of association,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “The challenges of our age are confronting us with hard choices amid mounting intolerance and inhumanity.”

Zeid made his comments as part of the launch of Human Rights Day 2015. The celebrations are part of a commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Zeid has called on all states to ratify the two Covenants.

“The two Covenants are the bedrock of what we now recognize as international human rights law,” he said. “The Covenants are not dry, abstract legal texts but vital tools to ensure freedoms are upheld and promoted, and crises are met with coherent and humane responses. They make a difference to the everyday lives of people in countries that have ratified them.”

To date, the ICCPR and the ICESCR have been ratified by 168 and 164 States respectively since they were adopted 49 years ago. Human Rights Day marks the start of a year-long campaign to celebrate the coming half century of the two Covenants.

There will be events taking place in cities all over the world and online. In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Office along with the European Union, the Union of European Football Associations and the Permanent Missions of Greece and Slovakia present the “All Equal” football tournament. Play takes place in Ariana Park at Palais des Nation. Retired French international footballer Christian Karembeu will take part in the tournament.

And today are the finals of the Seventh Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition. The competition, which started on 8 December, brought together 45 participants from 15 universities representing all 5 United Nations regions of the World (Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and other regions).

On 16 December is the launch of the two Covenants campaign. The event includes a photo exhibition and a performance on freedom. The event takes place at Palais des Nations.

You can find more information on Human Rights Day 2015 and the two Covenants celebration, along with downloads and a video message from the High Commission, on our commemorative web page.

10 December 2015

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