United Nations, Dec 19 (IECurrentAffairs) The ‘clear and profound’ guidelines enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘have made it the world’s most widely translated document’, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the General Assembly at an event to commemorate the Declaration’s 70th Anniversary, marked 10 December.
“Wherever we live, whatever our circumstances or place in society, our race, colour, gender or sexual orientation, language, religion, opinion, nationality or economic status, we are all equal in human rights and dignity,” Mr Guterres said.
As part of the UN’s activities in observance of Human Rights Day, which coincided with the Declaration’s anniversary, champions in the field from across the world, convened at the General Assembly Hall to be recognised for their outstanding contributions.
Every five years, The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is awarded to organisations and individuals which embody excellent activism in defending human rights.
The four winners join a small but notable group who have been recognised since The Prize was established by the General Assembly in 1966, including prominent figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and others.
The work they do is often dangerous, “yet these courageous individuals and groups remain committed to shining a light on the dark corners of the globe”, Mr Guterres said at the award ceremony.
He emphasised that “their work, and that of other human rights defenders around the world, is essential for our collective efforts to sustain peace and ensure inclusive sustainable development and respect for human rights for all.”
To the human rights defenders carrying out the work on the ground, Mr Guterres said “I admire their courage and sacrifice,” in a separate set of remarks to the General Assembly, honouring the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by consensus 20 years ago.
Threats to people’s rights have taken on many forms, including “a growth of intolerance and shrinking space for civil society,” he said, but despite the persecution of human rights and defenders, including campaigners, journalists, health workers and lawyers, these individuals remain steadfast in standing for “the principles and values on which our Organisation is built.”