The United Nations on Sunday kicked off in Paris, France, a year-long campaign to honor the foundational human rights document, which next year marks its 70th anniversary.
Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, “human rights have been one of the three pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and development,” said Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for Human Rights Day, annually observed on 10 December.
As “one of the world’s most profound and far-reaching international agreements,” the Universal Declaration proclaimed the inalienable rights of every human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
Mr. Guterres noted that while human rights abuses did not end when the Universal Declaration was adopted, the instrument has helped countless people to gain greater freedom and security, and has also helped to prevent violations, obtain justice for wrongs, and strengthen national and international human rights laws and safeguards.
“Despite these advances, the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration are being tested in all regions,” he said, citing rising hostility towards human rights and those who defend them by people who want to profit from exploitation and division.
“We see hatred, intolerance, atrocities and other crimes. These actions imperil us all,” he said, urging people and leaders everywhere to stand up for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – and for the values that underpin hopes for a fairer, safer and better world for all.
The year-long campaign started at Palais de Chaillot in Paris on Sunday, with an event also to be held on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Information Centres around the world will also launch commemorative activities.
For his part, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that thanks to the Universal Declaration, the daily life of millions has been improved, untold human suffering has been prevented and the foundations for a more just world have been laid.
“While its promise is yet to be fulfilled, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity,” he said.
The period leading up to 10 December 2018, the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, will be “a year of intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance of each and every one of the 30 articles contained in this extraordinary document.”
Today, as World War II and the Holocaust grow distant, that awareness appears to be evaporating at an alarming rate, and the enormous progress that has been achieved through progressive enactment of human rights principles, as laid out in the Universal Declaration, is being increasingly forgotten or willfully ignored, Mr. Zeid said.
He said it is right to honour its achievements and pay tribute to its inspired architects on the 70th anniversary year, but “we should be under no illusions: the legacy of the Universal Declaration is facing threats on many fronts.”
“We must organize and mobilize in defence of human decency, in defence of a better common future… We must take a robust and determined stand: by resolutely supporting the human rights of others, we also stand up for our own rights and those of generations to come,” he said.
UN sounds alarm as Venezuelan refugees and migrants passes three million mark
The number of refugees and migrants who have left Venezuela worldwide has now reached three million, the two main United Nations agencies advocating for them announced on Thursday, flagging the need to increase support for the countries which are hosting large numbers of displaced Venezuelans.
According to the UN office for humanitarian coordination (OCHA), most of the 3 million are currently hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, accounting for about 2.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Colombia has the highest number with over one million, followed by Peru with half a million, Ecuador with some 220,000, and Argentina with 130,000.
In addition to South American countries, countries in Central America and the Caribbean also recorded increasing arrivals of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Panama, for example, is now hosting 94,000 Venezuelans.
Commending these countries’ “open-door policy,” Eduardo Stein, who heads the joint effort on behalf of refugee agency UNHCR and migration agency IOM for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, noted however that “their reception capacity is severely strained,” and is “requiring a more robust and immediate response from the international community if this generosity and solidarity are to continue.”
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, noted during a recent visit to Peru, that every Venezuelan she had met described the situation in their country as “desperate,” adding that she heard “stories of people dying because of a lack of medical care and medicine… and tragic accounts of violence and persecution”.
With these rising numbers of families fleeing Venezuela, their basic needs have increased, along with the communities hosting them.
Governments in the region are leading the humanitarian response and working to coordinate efforts based on the Quito Declaration for example, adopted in September and which has been an important step towards a regional approach to scale up the response and harmonize policies.
To support this response, the UN and its partners have appealed for US$220 million to address the needs of 406,000 people across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $17.2 million earlier this year.
In addition, a humanitarian regional response plan is underway to be launched in December, with a focus on four areas: direct emergency assistance, protection, socio-economic and cultural integration and capacity-building for governments of receiving countries.
The governments from the region are scheduled to meet again in Quito on 22 and 23 November to continue moving the regional process further.
Globalization Cannot Be Stopped – but It Can and Should Be Better
Global GDP has doubled since 1990, but further global integration, while inevitable, must be accompanied by structural reforms that enable greater international cooperation as well as policies that support more inclusive, sustainable societies. This was the finding from the opening plenary of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils which began today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The purpose of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils is to convene the world’s best network of experts to identify new ideas and models that can be applied to critical global challenges. In his opening remarks, Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, told participants: “Globalization cannot be stopped, but it can be improved. It should be more inclusive, sustainable and job creating. We need to stop seeing trade as a weapon but instead see it as a strong, positive force for inclusive, poverty-eradicating growth.”
“Globalization’s future is no longer about physical trade. It is about knowledge, information and technology. Digital trade already accounts for 12% of international trade, and data flows are predicted to increase another fivefold by 2022. The result will inevitably be not less globalization but more, different, globalization,” he continued.
His Excellency Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future of the United Arab Emirates, in his opening address told participants: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, shape it and implement it. In today’s world, governments cannot create the future singularly; it is important to involve everyone from the private sector to youth, international partners and others in creating policies.”
On the power of the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to bring about a more inclusive and sustainable future, Al Gergawi said: “The collective mind provided by technology is much smarter than the individual mind. The wisdom of the crowd is a common saying; however, this saying is multiplied a thousand times when talking about and using technology.”
In a special televised session to mark the beginning of the meeting, Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, told participants that any global architecture in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution needed to be shaped by greater cooperation between nations. “In my 30 years as a diplomat I see less and less dialogue. Even when leaders speak these days there are more monologues and less willingness to accept that they do not own the truth. What is needed is a platform where leaders can discuss openly and honestly where our planet is heading.”
Bali Conference discusses unlocking Industry 4.0 for Asia and the Pacific countries
Organized by the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the first Regional Conference on Industrial Development opened today, with a focus on the evolving concept of Industry 4.0 and its impact on developing countries. Titled “Unlocking the Potential of Industry 4.0 for Developing Countries”, the Conference encouraged knowledge sharing to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0, by promoting the sharing of good practices and lesson learned, and by identifying good policies and strategies. This will contribute to the implementation of Industry 4.0 and will strengthen the regional coordination within Asia and the Pacific.
On the sidelines of the Conference, Indonesian Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartanto and UNIDO Director General LI Yong signed the revised Country Programme, which reaffirmed the partnership commitment between the Government of Indonesia and UNIDO and which will help increase efficiency, effectiveness and funding possibilities. The revised Country Programme highlights the priorities of the Government, with the updated portfolio of ongoing and pipeline projects focusing, inter alia, on poverty alleviation, creative industries, innovation, quality standards, green industrial policy, water stewardship and Industry 4.0.
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