UN Human Rights Day: UNHCR to help promote Declaration of Human Rights anniversary
GENEVA, December 10 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency marked Human Rights Day on Monday with a commitment to take part in a year-long public information and advocacy campaign to mark the 60th anniversary in 2008 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UN Human Rights Day was established in 1950 to commemorate the adoption and proclamation of the declaration by a meeting of the UN General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on December 10, 1948.
"Too often, governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to mark the launch of the special campaign to promote the universal declaration.
"This anniversary year is an occasion to build up that will. It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality - that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the declaration exists - and that it exists for them."
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour added that "the celebrations are meant not only as tributes to an extraordinary human achievement. They will also be reminders that the goal of making the declaration a living reality for everyone has yet to be realized."
UNHCR will be taking part in the campaign. The refugee agency is committed to human rights, which are an inherent part of its mandate of ensuring that refugees, stateless persons and others of concern to the organization have all of their rights respected, protected and fulfilled.
"As a rights-based agency, UNHCR's protection activities are aimed at empowering the men, women, boys and girls of our concern, and enabling them to once again reclaim and enjoy the human rights to which they are entitled under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments," said Karolina Lindholm-Billing, who is coordinating UNHCR's contribution to the campaign.
The core message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights - remains as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1948. Its universality has been demonstrated by the fact that the declaration has been translated into more than 360 languages.
The declaration clearly places UNHCR's core mandate and work within a human rights framework through its Article 14, which states that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution," and Article 15, which says "everyone has the right to a nationality."