GENEVA: Speaking on the run-up for Human Rights Day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the current year “has been a disastrous year for human rights across the globe.”
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon said that over the last decade he led the organization, he has repeatedly stressed the interdependence of the three pillars of the UN — peace, sustainable development and human rights.
“Together, they form the basis of resilient and cohesive societies rooted in inclusion, justice and the rule of law,”
“At a time of multiplying conflicts, intensifying humanitarian needs and rising hate speech, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that recognition of ‘the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’”, the UN head added.
Zeid said there was pressure on the human rights standards that were set in place after World War II.
“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 added.
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.
“A world where people focus only on the needs of their narrow social, national or religious group, and ignore or attack the equal needs of others, is a world which can very quickly descend into misery and chaos,” Zeid said.
“Human rights are the basis of effective policy, in societies where people know they can trust government and rely on the law. Tearing up the laws and institutions that were so painstakingly built up over the last half of the 20th century – designed to protect all individuals, as well as promote stability and economic well-being – is shortsighted and dangerous. These are not trifles to be tossed aside for personal or political gain,” he added.
He cited Syria as the starkest example of failure across the board, saying the conflict there was totally avoidable had President Bashar al-Assad chosen to listen to the voices of those protesting peacefully and legitimately against human rights violations.
“Then, instead of working together to stop the fighting and restore order, individual states stoked the conflict, supported the murderers, provided arms, encouraged extremists – in short, collectively, threw international humanitarian law and human rights law out of the window,” Reid said.
He announced that on Human Rights Day, the UN Human Rights Office will launch a campaign called “Stand up for someone’s rights today.”
“At a time of enormous turmoil and rapid change, the values which uphold peace across the world are too important to be left to international institutions and governments alone. It is within the power of every woman, man and child to stand up for respect and tolerance and push back the violence and hatred which threaten our world,” Reid said.
“In the coming years, the protections provided by international and national human rights laws and systems will be of the utmost importance, not just for those who have yet to fully enjoy them, but also for those who currently take them for granted,” the UN human rights chief added.