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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

HC Türk marks International Day of Peace

21 September 2023

Delivered by

Volker Türk, High Commissioner for Human Rights



I am pleased to join you and so many inspiring voices to mark International Day of Peace.

We are at a critical moment, for the health of people and of our planet.

As we strive for a more peaceful and sustainable world, we must place human rights at the heart of everything we do.

Especially when it comes to fighting the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

This year, we are marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Adopted by States in the aftermath of two world wars, genocide and the great depression, this ground-breaking text committed to upholding the inherent equality of every human being, and to advancing the rights that we all share.

The Declaration – and the body of human rights law that it grounds – have inspired real, positive change across the globe.

We see efforts to ensure human rights are at the heart of good governance and effective decision-making.

People have been empowered to claim their rights and to address injustice. Including through movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Fridays for Future, indigenous movements, and women’s protests.

Young people often speak in the language of human rights when voicing their concerns about the world.

And the idea of a human rights economy is gaining momentum to address the world’s deep inequalities and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

This progress is proof that human rights bring us together and provide solutions to our biggest challenges.

We still have a long way to go. Violations and abuses of human rights occur daily around the world, too often with impunity.

Conflict and violence, hate speech, shrinking civic space, governance of new technologies including artificial intelligence, and other challenges, require human rights-based responses.

And not least, we must act now to claim the recently recognised right to a healthy environment, to protect the planet and ensure access to clean water, air and land for current and future generations.

We know that the full guarantee of broader freedoms will ensure a more peaceful, sustainable future.

If we are guided by the common language of human rights, and their promise of freedom, equality and justice for all, the seemingly insurmountable may in fact be attainable.