South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in on Dec. 09 ::

“Human rights matter because they are dependent on only one thing: being human.”

This is one of the short video messages sent by everyday human rights defenders from around the world through the video sharing platform, Vine, the main social medium used to celebrate this year’s Human Rights Day.

The UN Human Rights Office wanted to focus on why human rights counted every day for people everywhere, and asked that they declare themselves part of the human rights community through these short messages.

In his traditional message for the Day, UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, highlighted the first words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by virtually all UN Member States on 10 December 1948, more than sixty years ago: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

“In perhaps the most resonant and beautiful words of any international agreement, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises, to all, the economic, social, political, cultural and civil rights that underpin a life free from want and fear,” the High Commissioner stressed. “These human rights are not country-specific. They are not a reward for good behaviour, or particular to a certain era or social group. They are the inalienable entitlements of all people, at all times and everywhere, 365 days a year.”

Zeid recalled that the Declaration is the kernel of the entire international human rights legal system, thanks to which people have “obtained justice for wrongs, and national and international protection for their rights.”

“Violations have been prevented. Independence and autonomy have been attained,” he said. “Many people – though not all – have been able to secure freedom from torture, unjustified imprisonment, summary execution, enforced disappearance, persecution and unjust discrimination, as well as fair access to education, economic opportunities, rich cultural traditions and adequate resources and health-care.”

Support for the Declaration continues to grow: this year the Convention against Torture reached its 30th year, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is 25. In 2015, the very first of the international agreements giving effect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination marks its half century.

“The power of the Universal Declaration is the power of ideas to change the world. It tells us that human rights are essential and indivisible – 365 days a year,” the High Commissioner said. “Every day is Human Rights day: a day on which we work to ensure that all people can gain equality, dignity and freedom.”