Clear Message From the United Nations: Human Rights Still Matter
Despite 70 years since the founding of the United Nations, and some progress made in many realms, human rights remain under a sustained attack driven by greed, ambition and contempt for human life, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“Too many are still denied their economic and social right, and the result is suffering on a colossal scale,” he said. “Discrimination so severe and pervasive still that it deprives too many people of the means of existence.”
Zeid made his statement at the opening of 29th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Council is a three-week meeting where different human rights issues and reports are debated and discussed before Member States.
The practice of naming specific countries of concern in the opening statement was also addressed. Some Member States believed that such a custom amounted to bringing shame on the country. Zeid disagreed. The shame does not come from naming the country, he said. It comes from the actions, conduct or violations that have been alleged with supporting evidence or proven.
“The greatest factory of shame is the blanket denial of human rights. The denial of right to life shames unreservedly. Killing on a massive scale, shames stunningly, and inexhaustibly. The denial of human dignity shames. Torture shames. Rape shames. We name; the shame of states, where it exists, has already been self-inflicted.”
Zeid went on to specifically name 23 States where he had specific human rights concerns, among them the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Burundi, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Bolivia.
Seid also addressed the Human Rights issues emerging from free trade agreement negotiations:
“[N]egotiations that sidestep democratic processes, or which may suffer political or regulatory capture by private sector actors, may agree on provisions that impact internationally guaranteed human rights, and may be inconsistent with the obligations of democratic political participation.
“All agreements must respect, and must not undercut, guarantees for economic and social rights, including labour rights and rights to food, water, health, and social security.”
It is unacceptable that we now live at a time when assaults on human rights are so numerous, Zeid said. Attacks come from all sides – States, militias, gangs, private companies, individuals. The common message sent by all these assaults, is that all human beings are not born free and equal.
“Let the message go out that we will defend the victim and the voiceless, the minority and the migrant, the blogger and the human rights defender. Let the world know that we will do so without fear or favour, regardless of the name of the victim or the profile of the perpetrator.”
For further reading: UN Human Rights Council