A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Human Rights Day 2015, December 10th

Human Rights Day, 10 December.
 Día de los Derechos Humanos, 10 de diciembre.
人权日, 12月10日.
День прав человека, 10 декабря.
Journée des droits de l'homme, 10 Décembre.
اليوم العالمي لحقوق الإنسان، في 10 ديسمبر كانون الاول.

Theme 2015 : Our Rights, Our Freedoms Always.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Statement on Human Rights Day 2015.

Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged to uphold.

In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.

At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. Others are targeting religious minorities and exploiting fears for political gain.  In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of religion.

Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil this freedom. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum, without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of our work. This is the spirit of the UN’s Human Rights up Front initiative, which aims to prevent and respond to large-scale violations.

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.

Ban Ki-moon

For Human Rights Day 10 December Zeid calls for universal ratification and respect for the ‘bedrock’ human rights treaties

GENEVA (9 December 2015) – Two fundamental human rights treaties adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 are as important and relevant today as they were half a century ago and should be ratified by all States, UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a message for Human Rights Day.

Zeid’s call comes on the eve of the 50th anniversary year of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

“The two Covenants are the bedrock of what we now recognize as international human rights law*,” said Zeid. “They have to date been ratified by 168 and 164 States respectively, but 27 countries have ratified neither and eight States have ratified only one. In the past five years, the number of ratifications has dwindled to an average of just one a year,” he noted.

“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 and on workers’ rights, and the threat to privacy in an increasingly digital world,” Zeid said.

“The challenges of our age are confronting us with hard choices amid mounting intolerance and inhumanity. The Covenants, together with the legal framework and jurisprudence of the expert Committees who oversee their implementation, can help us navigate these challenges,” said the High Commissioner.

“The Covenants spell out fundamental freedoms – freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They also detail rights that cover so many facets of human life: the right to liberty, to security, to education, to health, to equality between men and women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination,” 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,” the High Commissioner stressed.

“States should see becoming a party to both the Covenants as a positive decision that leads to constructive monitoring and guidance on improving compliance with international human rights norms,” Zeid said.

“The two Covenants are also a means for people to hold their governments to account for respecting and upholding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to secure redress and reparation for human rights violations,” he added. “But 50 years on, far too many people do not know their rights or how to claim them, which is why my Office is launching a year-long campaign, entitled ‘Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,’ to promote and raise awareness of the Covenants.”

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

"Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago. For more this year's theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office.


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