UN Human Rights chief urges governments to uphold rights of peoples

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – Short-sighted nationalism, isolationism and the rapid rise of xenophobia are dangerously eroding States' capacity to respond effectively to the difficulties they face, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated here on Tuesday.

In his remarks at a high-level dialogue, held at the African Union headquarters, High Commissioner Zeid described the dialogue as a “a potentially transformative opportunity for the people of this continent.”

“Many of us here today are disturbed by growing global challenges to multilateral institutions and international law,” he said, stressing that upholding the rights of peoples is the whole purpose of government.

“Any government which fails to respect and promote human rights is failing its people, and damaging its own efficacy,” Zeid underlined, elaborating that human rights are not an afterthought or a second-stage, which countries can begin to construct after development is well underway.

He went on that human rights “are not a project which unfolds after peace has been established. Rights are the drivers of development. Rights are the constructive elements of peace.”

On the work of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Office, Zeid explained that its staff monitor human rights conditions around the world. “We know that the problems we observe in some African countries are shared by those in many other regions.

“We strive to be impartial in our criticisms and recommendations, and I am convinced we succeed far better than many other international bodies, including within the UN. We may criticise restrictions on civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Tanzania, but we do the same in Cambodia, Venezuela, Hungary, France and the US.”

Zeid said his office has no intention or ability to weaken States. “On the contrary, wherever we are present, we propose assistance to States to build their capacity to uphold rights – because those rights are the accelerative force that will enhance development, social justice, participation, inclusion, and peace.”

Observing that the African Union is a mighty force, and rights experts at the UN Human Rights Office are its natural allies, he called on participants of the dialogue to help rights experts and activists stand for the rights of all women and men – not only on the African continent, but across the world.

“Millions of Afrodescendants face daily humiliation and oppression because of racism. We stand up to racism, no matter how powerful the leader who voices it – whether it is [US] President Trump, Prime Minister Viktor Orban [of Hungary] or anyone else. Join us – support us in this effort to build a more equitable international community,” High Commissioner Zeid stated.

“We – and the human rights we stand for – have a powerful capacity to make States stronger. Stronger because they are more fair. Richer, and more sustainably developed, because they can count on the full expression of the skills, talents, and views – including critical views – of their people. More peaceful, because their people are not torn apart by festering grievances, biting inequalities and injustice.”
-0- PANA AR 24April2018

24 april 2018 18:02:51

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