The United Nations marked the Human Rights Day with calls to uphold the developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice and sustainable development.
According to a statement dispatched to newsrooms on Tuesday, a world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a dark past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint.
“From the right to life, health, food, water and shelter, to our rights to be free of discrimination, to development and to self-determination, its impacts are already making themselves felt,” read the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
Bachelet further noted that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was a firm commitment by States to protect the rights of everyone and that includes making it possible for future generations to uphold human dignity, equality and rights.
“All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives. In order to ensure more effective decision-making, and to build greater trust and harmony across their nations, the leaders of every society should be listening to their people and acting in accordance with their needs and demands,” the Commissioner noted.
Bachelet noted that Article 1 of the Universal Declaration, states boldly that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Among the many human rights challenges, that have been metastasizing during the first two decades of the 21st century, the statement indicate, the global climate emergency presents perhaps the most profound planet-wide threat to human rights seen since World War II.
“No country, no community, will be spared by the climate emergency, as it intensifies. Already, we are seeing the most vulnerable communities and nations suffering terrible damage. People are losing homes, livelihoods and lives,” it added.
Bachelet further noted that inequalities are deepening, and more people are being forced into displacement and as such all must act quickly, and with principle, to ensure the least possible harm is done to human beings, and to the environment.
The commissioner called on Policy-makers everywhere to listen to the calls and in response, they need to shape more effective, and more principled, policies.
Speaking in Nairobi during the commemoration, Terre des homes Country representative to Kenya, Ms. Celine Beaudic, lauded journalists for their role in the promotion and protection of the rights of the children in Kenya.
“The media is consistently creating awareness among the public on the rights of the child and pushing for actions towards ensuring that the State is held accountable on child rights violations,” said Beaudic.
However, she decried that most vulnerable children in various parts of the country, especially the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASALs) do not have access to good nutrition all year round and inadequate funding to the school feeding program.
“Over 18 million people still lack access to improved water supply with only 40 and 60 percent in rural and urban areas respectively,” she observed.
This year’s Human rights has been commemorated with the theme ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights,’ to reflect on the progress made towards the promotion and protection of everyone’s rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris three years after the end of World War II. It was the product of 18 months’ work by a drafting committee, with members and advisers from all across the world.
By Isaac Wafula