UNITED NATIONS: Message of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Human Rights Day

December 10th marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  On this historic occasion, we should reaffirm the fundamental principles that its inspired group of framers articulated.  In the Universal Declaration they recalled the “disregard and contempt for human rights” that led to actions which “outraged the conscience of mankind” and they heralded the “advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want,” proclaiming this as “the highest aspiration of the common people.”

On this Human Rights Day, we also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Drafted amid utter destruction and destitution following the Second World War, the Declaration reflects humanity’s aspirations for a future of prosperity, dignity and peaceful coexistence. Its adoption was a landmark. Today, the Declaration remains a core part of the UN’s very identity. The challenges we face today are as daunting as those that confronted the Declaration’s drafters.

We face a food emergency and a global financial crisis.

Humankind’s assault on the natural environment continues.

There is political repression in too many countries.

And as ever, the most vulnerable continue to be on the frontlines of hardship and abuse.

The luckiest among us, those who are spared the most negative effects of disaster, poverty or instability, cannot turn a blind eye. The cascading effects of abuse and indifference can eventually engulf the entire planet. Rights, and especially their violation, must hold the whole world in solidarity.

On this Human Rights Day, it is my hope that we will all act on our collective responsibility to uphold the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. We can only honour the towering vision of that inspiring document when its principles are fully applied everywhere.