Stand up for Human Rights | Daily News

Stand up for Human Rights

Human Rights are a hot topic in this country and worldwide. Tomorrow, the world marks Human Rights Day (December 10), to mark the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This year, Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Based on the perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers all and stipulates that every Government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms. Human Rights encompass not only civil and political rights, but also social, economic and cultural rights.

This year’s theme “StandUp4HumanRights” centres on the fact that we need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. If we do not take a stand, there are elements that will strive to take those rights away. We all have a right to live free from all forms of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, skin colour, wealth, political affiliation and ability/disability. We have a right to education, health care, economic opportunities and a decent standard of living. We have rights to privacy and justice. These rights are relevant to all of us, every day. They are the foundation of peaceful societies and sustainable development, with peace and development being the other two pillars on which the UN was established.

Despite these advances, the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration are being tested in all regions. There is rising hostility towards human rights and those who defend them. We see hatred, intolerance and bigotry. Antagonistic nationalism is on the rise, with surging levels of racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination. There are scores of conflicts around the world that claim precious lives every day. Indeed, some practices of the Dark Ages survive to this day – just a few weeks back, international media exposed a slavery ring in Libya where migrants were being sold for US$ 400 each. It is disgusting to think that such practices continue even today, when the world is far more enlightened on Human Rights and related matters.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights situation has improved vastly since the Coalition Yahapalana Government took over in January 2015. The previous Government headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had largely ignored and ridiculed the Human Rights concerns expressed by the International Community with regard to the final stages of the conflict and the general Human Rights environment. It was an abysmal period for Human Rights in the country, with everyone from journalists to academics subjected to white van abductions, torture and even murder. Anyone who dared to stand up for Human Rights was branded a “traitor” and intimidated.

This led to a major confrontation with the International Community, which resulted in Sri Lanka getting isolated on the world stage. All the well-known democracies had deserted Sri Lanka and only a few countries which themselves had a dubious Human Rights record were by Sri Lanka’s side. This trend, which could ultimately have resulted in punitive economic sanctions against Sri Lanka, was reversed only when the National Unity Government came to power.

It has since strengthened national Human Rights mechanisms and opened a dialogue with the International Community on Accountability and Human Rights issues. Due to the success of these endeavours, the International Community has given time and space to Sri Lanka to resolve these issues through a domestic mechanism.

The previous regime accused the International Community of interfering in our internal affairs by raising concerns over Human Rights. Its favourite battle cry was that an “international conspiracy” was on against Sri Lanka with the aim of sending the then President to the “electric chair” at The Hague. The fact that no such structure or punishment exists at international level was conveniently forgotten.

Human Rights are indeed truly universal and one country’s Human Rights violations affect everyone else. This is the very basis on which the UN Human Rights Council conducts a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of every UN Member State’s Human Rights situation. This is a forum where even the poorest, least developed country can question the Human Rights abuses in even the richest, most developed country.

Of course, no country has a perfect Human Rights record. The people should continuously exert pressure on the authorities to guarantee that the rights of all are protected to the fullest. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we must all stand up for our rights to make the world a better place.


There is 1 Comment

Are we all thinking of our rights. The responsibility come from all of us to see fellow humans including children women are treated with trust honesty kindness respect love passion eith sll support many countries just plainly openly a uses it invluding army police and failing in all aspects the basic needs of humans trying to email.uate domething not natural often not not giving time examinations and in fact exposing vulnerable citizens to organized attacks destruction of life properties must to dismay to their own religious teachings include what is happening in Burma now not unknown in our own land sending many seeking refuge in other countries on the way create anger creations of terrorism eith counterattack against the ordinary citizens lack discipline order create make killings murders abductions sll while member of organizations said to guard human rights violations still not admitting it. All countries must like it or not respect human rights not seek power glory at the expense of life death various risks to citizens of the land


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