Today, 10 December, the world celebrates International Human Rights Day, the day on which the General Assembly, in 1948, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The United Nations declared Human Rights Day in 1950 as a day to review the international efforts made in respecting, promoting, and protecting human rights throughout the world.
This year’s Human Rights Day focuses on the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is celebrated under the theme “build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts”.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) highlights the absence of clear and specific implementation mechanisms to ensure that the countries of the world adhere to the basic rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 72 years since its declaration.
The Council expresses its deep regret that this day comes amid an escalation of human rights violations in different parts of the world, especially in the Arab region, and discrimination policies continue in total lack of accountability and justice under the weight of the political interests of states. Many of the ongoing violations constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially what is happening in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the occupied Palestinian territories.
In Yemen, aerial bombing, famine, and other violations have continued for years, due to attacks by the Saudi-led coalition, as well as the armed conflict between armed groups and militias in the country, it has resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries and millions of displaced people.
In Syria, Libya, and Iraq, civilians are paying for the struggle for power, with widespread impunity. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, violations of the authority of the occupying Power continue without any real responsibility.
In other countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, political arrests are widespread on the grounds of political opposition and freedom of opinion and expression, in addition to systematic violations committed in prisons as well as other violations against civil and political rights in particular.
GCRL also casts lights on a number of serious violations that accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic, in many countries around the world, such as discrimination and exploitation of the pandemic to perpetuate the violation of freedoms, and the lack of commitment to health and safety rights, as well as widespread violations of workers’ rights, whether by the authorities in power or by major companies.
In light of this reality, the Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties recommends the following:
The need to create binding mechanisms to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in the world.
Ensure the protection of victims of violations, activate accountability and redress mechanisms, and put an end to the policy of impunity.
Protect societies from wars and armed conflicts and sensitize international public opinion on the obligation to stop investments of major countries in the arms trade towards countries at war and in conflict.
Call on the United Nations special procedures to assume their responsibilities by putting an end to these violations in the countries of the region, in particular the phenomenon of arrests which take place in the context of intensified repression of the political opposition and freedom of opinion and press freedom.
Call on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to apply the Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory; to end the Israeli occupation and guarantee the right to self-determination of Palestinians.
Address the failures exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while applying human rights standards to tackle inequality, exclusion and discrimination, and ensuring health and economic rights for all.
Supports calls to fight inequalities, promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights, and encourage participation and solidarity in times of pandemic (COVID-19).