Tag Archives: Human Rights

The Transformation to a More Sustainable and Just World Begins Now

Mogens Lykketoft:"The transformation to a more sustainable and just world begins now"Ask anyone for their abiding memory of 2015 and they will most likely recall a negative one.

Some will recall the horrifying stories of death and destruction caused by conflicts around the world, most notably in Syria where over 250,000 people have lost their lives and almost 11 million people have been displaced. Others will recall a sense of grief, fear and anger after violent extremists attacked, tortured, kidnapped and executed innocent civilians around the world. Others still might recall a simple but disturbing fact they heard in passing – that 2015 was the hottest year on record or that over 15,000 children continue to die annually, mostly from preventable diseases.

Yet, despite all of this, 2015 was also a year of progress and breakthroughs.

2015 was the year, for instance, when health workers and public officials supported by the international community brought an end to the Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. It was the year when the UN Millennium Development Goals expired, having helped to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty globally by over 50%. And it was the year when talks not tanks led to improvements in Cuba/US relations, an Iranian nuclear deal, a breakthrough in peace-talks in Colombia, transition in the Central African Republic. And most recently, a roadmap on resolving the Syria conflict was agreed on in the Security Council; the hope is that finally we can begin to contain this horrible humanitarian disaster.

Each of these is a great achievement in its own right. But it was the adoption, by more than 193 members of the United Nations, of three major international agreements that gives me greatest hope for the future.

In September, world leaders descended on New York to embrace a new compact for people and planet anchored in 17 Sustainable Development Goals known as the SDGs. In Addis Ababa, just two months earlier, those same leaders committed to a new global framework on finance, capacity building, technology, trade, debt and other issues to support the realization of these goals. And in Paris earlier this month, after years of disappointment, they overcame divisions and agreed on how to avert catastrophic climate change while advancing human progress.

Through these agreements, governments everywhere have committed to advance three critical transformations in our world. First, they committed to address the root causes of poverty and hunger and to advance human development and gender equality everywhere. Second, they agreed to promote shared prosperity while transitioning to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy and protecting our natural environment. And, third, they agreed to improve governance at all levels so as to bring about more peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Skeptics will of course question both the ability and commitment of governments to translate these agreements into real change. But not only do I believe that we can succeed, I truly believe that we will succeed.

Let me explain why.

After 50 years in politics, I have never seen negotiations that were more deliberative or more inclusive than those that gave rise to these agreements. The result is that these agreements have real political buy-in at the highest possible level. They have also helped create a global movement for positive change, involving civil society, young people, private companies and more, that will be with us every step of the way over the next fifteen years. And from the Millennium Development Goals to reduction in the price of renewables, many governments and many companies are demonstrating that the change we need is not only possible but already happening.

In 2016, however, we must build on this momentum and secure early implementation. To do so, we need action from all actors. As President of the United Nations General Assembly, this is my top priority.

Governments, for example, must identify and plan for the changes they need to undertake to reach these new Goals. They must invest in essential services so that all people can fulfill their potential. They must create an enabling legal and policy framework that encourages more responsible consumption and increased investment in sustainable infrastructure. And they must advance more transparent and inclusive governance so that everyone pays their fair share, people live in freedom and security, and societies become more cohesive and more equal.

At the international level, we need a United Nations system that is ready to give countries the support they need. We also need to ensure that exclusive economic decision-making forums, such as the World Bank and IMF, the G20 etc, become more aligned with this new Agenda.

In the area of peace and security, we need changes at the UN so that we can become better at preventing conflicts and protecting human rights before it is too late.

The Sustainable Development Goals also demand action from the private sector. They must align their corporate activities with the essence of the new Goals. They can turn their innovation towards finding SDG solutions and partner with governments and other key actors to support and finance implementation. This includes the global finance industry which must now embrace the shift. Governments must ensure a framework of regulation and taxation for the private sector that makes it obvious that green investment is not just the best for the environment and the future of mankind, but the best for business too.

Finally, change will not happen without action and pressure from civil society and ordinary people everywhere. Non-governmental organizations need to hold governments to account for the commitments they have made in 2015. Philanthropic foundations need to support causes that are aligned with the SDGs and work more effectively with governments and other actors. And ordinary citizens, young people, and others can use the incredible explosion in information technology in recent years to become key drivers of implementation.

If 2015 was a year of incredible breakthroughs, then 2016 must mark the moment when all of us begin to deliver, when we begin to make the transformation needed to a more sustainable and just world.

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The Secretary-General’s message on Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day 2015Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged 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.

Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. 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.

Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil 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 we reaffirm our commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of our work. This is the spirit of the UN’s Human Rights up Front initiative, which aims to prevent and respond to large-scale violations.

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all

Session on the monitoring of the implementation of the National Action Plan on the fulfillment of UN Human Rights Council recommendations

Session on the monitoring of the implementation of the National Action Plan on the fulfillment of UN Human Rights Council recommendationsOn 27 November, the Research and Coordination Council of Uzbekistan’s National Human Rights Center held a session titled “Monitoring of the implementation of the National Action Plan on the fulfillment of the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review and the UN treaty bodies on the results of the review of national reports of Uzbekistan on human rights and freedoms”.

The session kicked off with welcome remarks by the Director of the National Human Rights Center of Uzbekistan, Akmal Saidov, and UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, Stefan Priesner.

Deputy Minister of Justice Anvar Usmanov presented a report on the activities of the Interagency Working Group on the study of the observance of human rights and freedoms by law enforcement and other state bodies. Deputy head of the Department of Human Rights Analysis and Research at the National Human Rights Center, Farida Bakayeva, made a speech focusing on the fulfillment of the 2014-2016 National Action Plan on the implementation of the UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations under the Universal Periodic Review and the UN treaty bodies on the results of the review of national reports of Uzbekistan on human rights and freedoms.

Those gathered also learnt about the contributions of the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan to the implementation of the action plan as well as foreign countries’ experience in the fulfillment of the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council.

During breakout sessions, participants discussed the following themes: “Development of Civil Society”, “Further Deepening of Judicial and Legal Reform, Improvement of the Penitentiary System and Ensuring the Rule of Law”, and “Further Development of Social and Economic Programmes for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan”.

The session determined areas in which the international community should assist Uzbekistan in the fulfillment of the National Action Plan, developed conclusions and recommendations to be considered by the Interagency Working Group on Human Rights, discussed further measures as a monitoring platform, and determined themes for 2015-2016 monitoring seminars.



Central Asian dads support gender equality

he-for-sheA gender equality campaign, ‘HeForShe’, has kick-started in Central Asia, which will see fathers have their say on how they view the world for their daughters. The event is part of UN Women’s HeForShe global solidarity campaign seeking to advance gender equality and bring together one half of humanity in support of the other half for the benefit of all.

The campaign was launched on the eve of 11 October declared by the UN as the International Day of the Child Girl. The goal of the observance is to attract attention to social problems and inequality faced by girls across the world on a daily basis. The problems include absence or lack of access to education, nutrition, healthcare, as well as social rights, discrimination, violence, and forced child marriage.

Gender inequality remains one of the most chronic human rights violations of the present day. In spite of major efforts launched many years ago, inequality between women/girls and men/boys continues to manifest itself starkly throughout the world.

The problem of gender equality concerns not only women. It is a human rights issue that affects all people – women and girls, men and boys. In daily life, gender equality leads to favorable social, political and economic results for all of us. Women empowerment brings benefits to entire humanity as a whole. Gender equality rids women – as well as men – of prescribed social roles and stereotypes.

You can also join the campaign by:

  • posting a photo or video on a social network stating your answer to the question “What kind of world do you want for your daughter?”
  • sharing information about the campaign with your friends on social networks. Campaign hashtags: #‎FathersAreHeForShe, #‎HeForShe, or
  • taking a stand for gender equality on heforshe.org.

The Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Youth

Youth-day-2015Emerging threats, violent extremism, shifting political conditions, economic turmoil and social transformations are combining to heighten the challenges facing the world’s young people. No one knows better than them the issues at stake or the best way to respond. That is why I am calling on young people to speak out – and I am urging leaders to listen.

As the world changes with unprecedented speed, young people are proving to be invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions. Youth movements and student groups are challenging traditional power structures and advocating a new social contract between States and societies. Young leaders have contributed fresh ideas, taken proactive measures, and mobilized through social media as never before.

I applaud the millions of young people who are protesting for rights and participation, addressing staggering levels of youth unemployment, raising their voices against injustice, and advocating global action for people and the planet.

In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.

Volunteerism is an ideal way to improve society – and it is open to virtually everyone. Youth can also join forces with the United Nations as we move from forging the new sustainable development goals to implementing them. That spirit of action is embodied in the theme of this International Day: “Youth and Civic Engagement.”

I stand with the world’s young people in calling for measures to secure human rights, economic progress, environmental stewardship and social inclusion.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Charter and the 20th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth. In support of their aims, my Youth Envoy is helping to mobilize this largest generation of young people in history. As he says, youth engagement can help turn the world we want into the world we deserve.

Let us all support young people in creating a future where our planet is protected and all people live in dignity.

The ‘Unity of the Different and Equal’ Festival: disability issues in a new format

The first-ever ‘Unity of the Different And Equal’ Festival dedicated to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place on 2 December 2014.

According to the statistics of the United Nations World Health Organization, approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population live with a disability, making the world’s  largest minority. This figure is constantly increasing as a result of population growth, advances in medicine and the ageing process, which is a signal to take action towards creating opportunities for everyone to feel equal and to fulfill their potential.

The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Unity of the different and equal’ which calls for providing equal opportunities for all regardless of their physical and other features.

The ‘Unity of the Different and Equal’ Festival  is an attempt to draw public attention to the concerns of persons with disabilities, protect their dignity, rights and well-being, and highlight how the society can benefit  from their participation in its political, social, economic and cultural life.

In particular, the draft of the National Action Plan to prepare for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was presented as part of the Festival. It is noteworthy that the draft was presented through a video to display visually the importance of ratifying the Convention to ensure sustainable society development. The Festival also showcased some products made by social enterprises, while a concert program with Uzbekistan’s persons with special needs and youth was organized for the Festival visitors.

A special media campaign informed the public of the country’s achievements in strengthening social protection for persons with disabilities since it became independent.

The festival is organized by the UN in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Advisory Council of NGOs of persons with disabilities at NANNOUz.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, celebrated annually on 3 December, aims to raise public awareness and ensure equal opportunities for all. This day was established by a resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1992.