This month we celebrated the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR sets out a broad range of fundamental human rights and freedoms to which all men and women, everywhere in the world, are entitled, without any distinction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main UN rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observance of Human Rights Day.
This year’s theme for the Day, which was observed through numerous events around the world, is ‘Inclusion and the Right to Participate International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts. On this Day, let us unite to defend your right to make it heard in Public Life.’; Article 18 of UDHR.
Yet far too many groups and individuals face far too many obstacles. Women have the right to vote almost everywhere, but remain hugely under-represented in parliaments and peace processes, in senior government posts and corporate boardrooms, and in other decision-making positions. Indigenous people frequently face discrimination that denies them the opportunity to make full use of their guaranteed rights or fails to take account of their circumstances. Religious and ethnic minorities – as well as people with disabilities or those with a different sexual orientation or political opinion – are often hampered from taking part in key institutions and processes. Institutions and public discourse need to represent societies in all their diversity.
In Pakistan religious minorities also celebrates the universal human rights day in Karachi, Hindu Sewa Welfare Program, SPARK and Global Human Rights Defence organized the Seminar wherein prominent advocates, members of Civil Society and Members of Human Rights Organizations including Bishop Aijaz Inayat, Ms. Erum Shah, MPA Pitambar Sehwani, Saleem Khursheed Khokhar MPA, Chairman Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs Sindh Assembly and President All Pakistan Minorities Alliance addressed the audience.
As part of the celebration, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held a high-level event at its Paris headquarters in support of girls’ education .Speakers include UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. Pakistan's President Asif Zardari pledged $10 million for girls' education to UNESCO on Monday in the name of a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, saying sending girls to school was the best way to combat extremism.
In his message, Mr. Ban noted that there has been “undeniable” progress over the past century along the path of inclusion. However, far too many groups and individuals face obstacles, including women, indigenous peoples, religious and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities or those with a different sexual orientation or political opinion.
Naseem Sheikh is a guest writer for Celsias. She lives in Lahore, Pakistan