Wed, Sep

On Human Rights Day, UN highlights importance of Universal Declaration for all people


Each year, the United Nations commemorates Human Rights Day on 10 December, the day on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

This year’s slogan, “Human Rights 365,” is designed to reflect the notion that the fundamental propositions in the Universal Declaration apply to all people, everywhere, at all times. In Afghanistan, and around the world, the UN is commemorating the Day with various events designed to cultivate an understanding of and appreciation for the Declaration and its applicability, across borders and throughout the year, to improving people’s lives. 

Human rights are not country-specific, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, noting that human rights are the inalienable entitlements of all people, 365 days a year. The UN’s Human Rights chief said the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration serve to discredit the tyranny, discrimination and contempt for human beings that have so painfully marked human history.

 “Since the Declaration was adopted, countless people have gained greater freedom,” he said, noting that the Declaration embodies the notion that ideas can change the world. 

In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day to bring to the attention of the peoples of the world the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. 

In a statement, the High Commissioner said the year 2014 will be remembered as a year of daunting human rights challenges. Nonetheless, he said, there have been significant, ongoing, global advances in achieving human rights. 

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said the world body protects human rights because when people enjoy their rights, economies flourish and countries are at peace. Mr. Ban called on all countries to honour their obligations to protect human rights every day of the year, and urged people everywhere to hold their governments accountable.  

“Let us respond to the cries of the exploited, and uphold the right to human dignity for all,” he said. 

 Human rights form an important part of the work carried out by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The Mission is expected to monitor the situation of civilians, to coordinate efforts to ensure their protection, to promote accountability, and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party.

To this end, UNAMA’s Human Rights personnel monitor, analyse and report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan and engage in protection, advocacy and capacity-building activities. Through regular public updates and thematic reports, the Human Rights team provides substantive analysis of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, raising issues of concern and proposing and advocating for measures to improve the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the country.

Pursuing an overall strategy of “embedding human rights in Afghanistan” or “human rights everywhere all the time for everyone” in support of all Afghan people, UNAMA’s Human Rights officers works in five priority areas: protection of civilians, violence against women, children and armed conflict, peace and reconciliation, and detention practices. 

To commemorate this year’s Human Rights Day, UNAMA’s Human Rights team facilitated two daylong Kabul events to discuss the activities, programmes and structures of the world body’s work in Afghanistan for human rights. The event attendees, including national human rights experts, activists and civil society members, discussed a broad range of human rights issues, including international human rights declarations in the context of Afghanistan.