‘Human rights under attack’ – UN warns

United Nations headquarters

The world is sliding back on human rights and its principles are under attack in all corners of the globe, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein warned.

Zeid raised the alarm in a hard-hitting speech marking the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights that underscored the “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated” nature of human rights.

The UN rights chief said that a quarter century on, the world seemed instead to be “headed in another direction.”

While raising the alarm, however, he urged people everywhere to show “fierce and passionate commitment” in defending human rights.

At the 1993 Conference, which set in motion the establishment of the UN human rights office, 171 States adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, to strengthen human rights around the world.

Noting the threats against human rights around the world, which were no longer treated as “a priority” but instead as “a pariah,” he called on everyone to stand up for what the Vienna Declaration really represents.

“We need to use this anniversary to begin to mobilise a much broader community to defend human rights with our fierce, and passionate commitment,” Zeid said.

He stressed the need to make clear “the vital, life-saving importance of human rights for the daily lives and global future of our fellow human beings.”

“There is no time to lose. Let this be a turning point, so that the Vienna Declaration can stand proud – not as a decaying museum piece, but as the flag-bearer for a resurgent movement to build peace and progress,” he said.