Our rights, our freedoms, always – Human Rights Day 2015

Human Rights Day 2015

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50thanniversary 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.

Fifty years on, many people are still unaware of the existence of the International Bill of Human Rights and many countries around the world still have much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity. The growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, the justification of rights violations in the name of combating terrorism, the clawing back of economic and social rights in the name of economic crises or security, and the failure to respect the right to privacy in the digital age, show the relevance of the two Covenants and the need to respect them.

The UN campaign "Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear - which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.

Today, the UN in Ghana will end its 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign which emphasized that gender-based violence in its many forms is a human rights violation and impedes progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.

The UN system in Ghana has worked on various human rights issues, including female genital mutilation and child marriage, and stands ready to continue this work through the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The 2013 Sustainable Development Agenda that was adopted by over 150 Heads of State in New York in September explicitly recognizes that development can only be built on a foundation of peace and justice. The 16th of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Promoting peace with access to justice means addressing root causes of conflict between groups, and empowering institutions for conflict resolution. And it means removing barriers to justice for those whose human rights may not be recognized and protected in some places for any reason. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it succinctly when he said that respect for religious, traditional and cultural beliefs can never justify denial of basic human rights.For more on this year's theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office or follow #humanrightsday on social media.