Stand up for human rights, which are under unprecedented pressure - Zeid

​“Unprecedented pressure on international human rights standards risks unravelling the unique set of protections set in place after the end of World War II.” In a statement issued in the run-up to Human Rights Day on 10 December, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also stressed it was within the power of every individual to play a role in pushing back against such pressures, and that many are already doing so.

2016 has been a disastrous year for human rights across the globe, and if the growing erosion of the carefully constructed system of human rights and rule of law continues to gather momentum, ultimately everyone will suffer,” Zeid said.

“Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading,” he said. “Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Conflicts and deprivation are forcing families from their homes. Climate change darkens our horizons. Discrimination, yawning economic disparities and the ruthless desire to gain or maintain power at any cost are the principal drivers of current political and human rights crises. Humane values are under attack –and so many people feel overwhelmed, unsure what to do or where to turn.”

“Many leaders are failing to grapple effectively and honestly with these complex social and economic issues,” Zeid said. “So people are turning in desperation to the siren voices exploiting fears, sowing disinformation and division, and making alluring promises they cannot fulfil.”

“But we have learned, through the bitter lessons of history, that humanity will only survive, and thrive, if we seek solutions together. Human rights were intended to be, and still are, the antidote to all of this: everyone has rights –economic and social rights, as well as civil and political rights and the right to development – and it is time to stand up for those rights, not just for yourself but for everyone else.”

Announcing that on Human Rights Day, the UN Human Rights Office will launch a campaign entitled “Stand up for someone’s rights today,” the UN human rights chief urged people everywhere to defend a system that was designed precisely with the aim of making the world a better place for everyone.

“Human rights are for everyone, and everyone will be affected if we do not fight to preserve them. They took decades of tireless effort by countless committed individuals to establish, but –as we have seen all too clearly in recent months -- they are fragile. If we do not defend them, we will lose them.”

“As well as understanding our own rights, we can make a real difference by supporting others. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media, at home and on the sports field. Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone's right to live free from fear and abuse. We can all lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity.”

“The time for this is now.”

The full Human Rights Day statement can be viewed here:

8 December 2016

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