Remarks on Human Rights Day - Ms Moana Luamanuvae

Dec 10, 2015

It is a pleasure to be here today to celebrate Human Rights Day and commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign entitled: “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always”. The campaign aims at promoting and raising awareness on two covenants, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Created in the aftermath of World War II, the two treaties along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became the International Bill of Human Rights setting out the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings. Fifty years later the adoption of these two covenants many countries around the world still have much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity. 

As Ban Ki moon highlighted in his message on Human Rights Day: “Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

 

• First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

 

• Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. Others are targeting religious minorities and exploiting fears for political gain.  In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of religion.

 

• Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

 

• Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil this freedom. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum, without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights.”

Human rights and the rule of law are the basis for truly resilient, peaceful and stable societies but continue to remain a challenge. 

Whether we are at work, at school, at work or within our community we all need to demonstrate the kind of responsibility that we would like to see in our country’s future. 

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all. 

Faafetai.

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