Remarks of UN RC at Launch of 70 Days Campaign for 70th Anniversary of UDHR

It is a pleasure to be here with all of you to start a 70 day countdown that marks a crucial day every year, and even more so this year.

Today we want to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and officially launch a 70-day long informational campaignof the United Nations promoting the norms and ideals enshrined in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration is of paramount importance to all of us in this room, in all of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia and indeed the entire world.

Human rights are relevant for all of us, every day. Human rights include our rights to freedom from fear and from want, freedom to speak up, rights to health, education; and decent work, and to enjoy the benefits of measures to advance economic and social justice.

But let not me be the one who stresses these facts, but allow me to reiterate the importance of human rights in the words of one of the members of the truly global group of people that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Where, after all, do universal Human Rights begin? In small places, close to home so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. (...) Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

What Ms Eleanor Roosevelt so pointedly stressed, is what mankind so urgently needed to learn after the wrath and devastation of two horrendous world wars. And since then – over the past 70 years - the concept of human rights set out in the Universal Declaration has had a revolutionary impact. It has permeated policies and constitutions, from the global level to national and regional frameworks.

The Universal Declaration is at the foundation of what the United Nations does, being at the heart of all international human rights law. At the same time, the Universal Declaration’s visions and principles clearly shine through many constitutions of this world, not at the least in parts of the constitution of Kyrgyzstan.

Seventy years is a lifespan. But the Universal Declaration is strong and alive. It has stirred the hearts of generations. It has empowered millions to march, to come together and to build progress.

The first article of the Universal Declaration is clear: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Human rights are of value in themselves; they are not at the service of any other agenda. And no one ever loses their human rights, no matter what they do.

In this way, the Universal Declaration has unleashed the power of women’s participation; it has spurred the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. Human life has immensely improved – in health, education, less marginalization and less abuse of many minorities. Conflicts have been prevented. Disputes have been resolved by the impartial workings of justice. In many cases, discrimination has grown less harsh. Societies have become more open, more inclusive, and more respectful. And governments have grown in their understanding that they should serve the needs and rights of their people.

Sadly, we still have a long way to go before respect for human rights is truly universal. Many people around the world still suffer from abuse of their rights. Gender inequality is one of the greatest human rights challenges we face. Refugees and migrants, people who do not conform to gender norms, minorities of all kinds, and people working in the informal economy, including child laborers, victims of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking are frequently targeted for denial and abuse of their rights.

This dichotomy of achievements and challenges is in some parts also reflective for Kyrgyzstan. The country made great strides forward but needs to push further into the right steps. Steps that are reflective of the breadth and importance of universal human rights.

The United Nations stands ready to support this process, and I want to highlight that today we have the heads of most United Nations agencies resident in Kyrgyzstan with us in this room, clearly showcasing the importance of human rights across all areas of work and development relevant for Kyrgyzstan. Indeed, human rights are at the very core of development in every sense. Social, economic, cultural, political.

This idea is also vividly enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Goals, which the global community has identified for ensuring sustainable development across the globe, takes human rights as its bedrock. Without respecting, protecting and promoting human rights, without distinction of any kind, no state will progress towards these Goals.

The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 70-days time on 10 December will strongly remind us of this fact, but more importantly it will highlight to us the sheer power of good, and human dignity that the Declaration’s ideas and visions can engender for all of us.

Our campaign to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the UDHR – on which my colleague the Regional Representative of the UN Human Rights Office Ryszard Komenda will now elaborate – will be focused on highlighting these very ideas to all residents of Kyrgyzstan.

As such you as media representatives play a crucial role in putting out the word on this remarkable day, which we’ll all celebrate together in 70 days.

Speech by
Author
Mr. Ozonnia Ojielo
Resident Coordinator
UN
Mr. Ozonnia Ojielo
UN entities involved in this initiative
OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights