Human Rights Day – Dec 10th

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Fifty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted two international treaties that would forever shape international human rights: The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Created in the aftermath of WWII, the two Covenants along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became the International Bill of Human Rights setting out the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

Since that time a fundamental sea change has occurred across the world, with many countries recognising human rights and the rule of law as the basis for truly resilient and stable societies.

Yet, challenges remain. “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,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “The challenges of our age are confronting us with hard choices amid mounting intolerance and inhumanity.”

Zeid made his comments as part of the launch of Human Rights Day 2015.

Fifty years on, many people are still unaware of the existence of the International Bill of Human Rights and many countries around the world still have much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity. The growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, the justification of rights violations in the name of combatting terrorism, the clawing back of economic and social rights in the name of economic crises or security, and the failure to respect the right to privacy in the digital age, show the relevance of the two Covenants and the need to respect them.

To promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary, the UN Human Rights Office launched on Human Rights Day “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” a year-long campaign to shine a light on the inalienable and inherent rights of global citizens — now, and always.

“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” revolves around the timeless themes of rights and freedom and the relevance of the work that continues in securing and ensuring them. At its core, FREEDOM, underpins the International Bill of Human Rights – freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want.

Visit the UN Human Rights Day webpage for more information including a video message from the UN High Commission

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