United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the four points the United Nations was founded on to be better upheld through the world.
Today commemorates the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birthright of all human beings.
The year long campaign will focus on the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear
In his Human Rights Day message, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there should be a “more concerted global action” to promote the principles the UN sought to uphold.
“In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.
At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The challenges of today can be seen and addressed through the lens of the four freedoms - freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear, he said.
Ban said millions of people around the world are denied their freedom of expression.
“We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.”
Terrorists have hijacked religion, “betraying its spirit by killing in its name,” Ban said in his message.
“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.”
On the third point, he said more needed to be done to end poverty, to enable “all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet”.
Finally, he spoke out on the refugee crisis the world is currently facing.
“Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfill 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.”
Today the United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of its work, Ban said.
“On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.”