GENEVA (7 December 2018) – On the occasion of Human Rights Day, independent experts* appointed by the Human Rights Council have underscored the centrality of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – now commemorating its 70th anniversary - to the international human rights protection system. Their statement can be read in full.
Below are some excerpts:
“Following the adoption of the Universal Declaration, the world witnessed an exponential development of international human rights standards that elaborated the protection regimes of individuals and peoples all over the world. Yet today we are witnessing wars, conflicts and violations of human dignity daily in different parts of the world. Some States and political leaders have engaged in wanton and egregious violations of human rights. Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.
The recent upsurge of forced migration which resulted from the various conflicts, economic mismanagement, poverty, oppression and violence, have precipitated an upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia in countries of asylum, which is reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years. Within States civic space is shrinking against the exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Many States do not treat all peoples with the same dignity and equality embodied in the Universal Declaration.
Today we celebrate the resilience of the human rights system and the contributions that the Universal Declaration has made to advancing human progress, peace and development globally. Over the last 70 years human rights have become an integral part of the duties governments owe towards their people. Women’s political participation and representation has increased significantly. The protection provided by the international human rights system has increased including by addressing new and emerging human rights issues and demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to people’s needs and expectations.
The Universal Declaration was born out of conflict and framed to perpetuate lasting peace. It is important to reflect on the resilience of that message, and the need for every person to recommit to the Universal Declaration for another 70 years.”
* The experts work for “Special Procedures” which is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic human rights issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 44 thematic mandates and 12 mandates related to countries and territories, with 80 active mandate holders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates.
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This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.
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