Statement by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner on International Human Rights Day (10 December 2017)

Dec 11, 2017

Human beings are born free and equal, both in rights and in dignity. This is the fundamental principle enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This ideal is as relevant and as pressing today as it was almost seventy years ago, when nations emerged from the shadow of the Second World War and together vowed to protect the rights, and dignity, of all people.

Almost 70 years on, those rights remain a bedrock of the United Nations’ mission and mandate. Still now, they are under threat in many places around the world. Still now, safeguarding them requires our attention and our vigilance.

For the development community, human rights are the foundation on which our work is built.

When we reach out to empower the poorest and the most vulnerable, when we support governments to build strong, just and inclusive institutions, when we support the provision of essential services and infrastructure, we are helping to put in place the necessary conditions for people to live lives of dignity and opportunity.

As we prepare to celebrate the 70-year anniversary of the Declaration in 2018, let us refocus on the spirit it embodies.

Let us also remember that the Declaration is much more than noble idealism. The rights it enshrines protect individuals, communities, and ultimately the respect and social cohesion that binds us together.

Together with the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, human rights provide a pathway to a world free of discrimination and exclusion, a world of peace and sustainable prosperity, a world in which no one is left behind. 

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