News / Europe

UN Marks 20th Anniversary of Human Rights Declaration

UN Marks 20th Anniversary of Rights Declarationi
X
December 10, 2013 5:41 AM
Tuesday is International Human Rights Day. This year, the United Nations marks 20 years since the signing of the Vienna Declaration, committing states to the promotion and protection of human rights for all and creating the post of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer has more.
UN Marks 20th Anniversary of Rights Declaration
Margaret Besheer
On this year’s International Human Rights Day, on December 10, the United Nations will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Vienna Declaration, committing states to the promotion and protection of human rights for all and creating the post of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
Some things in life may be taken for granted, such as the ability to receive an education, but as the Taliban attack on teen activist Malala Yousafzai taught the world last year, school is a right that can't be taken for granted.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 57 million children worldwide do not attend school. Many of them live in conflict zones, and most are girls.
 
“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn,” said Ban.
 
The right to an education, the rights of children, the elimination of violence against women, and the eradication of poverty were envisioned for all people by the Vienna Declaration.
 
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović said the 1993 declaration was a game changer.
 
“It was an event that really moved human rights to the forefront of the global agenda,” said Šimonović.
 
However, despite advances, Human Rights Watch’s Philippe Bolopion pointed out that the fight still continues.
 
"On a day like today, it is hard not to think about civilians trapped in Syria or in the Central African Republic who probably feel that the international community is failing them. And they are right. Despite all the progress we have seen at the U.N. in terms of putting human rights to the front, there are still tragic failures and it is often civilians who are paying the price,” said Bolopion.
 
Šimonović maintained that human rights abuses are often the first sign of conflict.
 
“If we act timely, we might be able to prevent them. The Secretary-General is just right now rolling out a new action plan called Rights Up Front. It puts human rights in the center of prevention of emerging conflict,” explained Šimonović.
 
Governments are responsible for protecting human rights, yet in Syria and the Central African Republic, the authorities are among those accused of atrocities.
 
HRW’s Bolopion recently visited the CAR and said he met many people whose relatives were killed by former rebels who are now in power.
 
“Too often it is the governments themselves who are responsible for very serious abuses against their population, and when that happens they need to be stopped by the international community,” said Bolopion.
 
On International Human Rights Day, the U.N. is honoring five rights defenders, including a Moroccan journalist and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs