December 06, 2020

Human Rights Day Emphasizes the Tools to Build Back Better

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December, commemorating the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). At the heart of the Mercy World is the recognition of human rights, the human dignity of all and the rights of nature. By focusing on the protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights, and by analyzing gender norms, different forms of discrimination and power imbalances, we can ensure that policies and programmes reach those most left behind.

In the Mercy Global Action document “Hope in a Time of Pandemic: Responding to COVID-19 through a Mercy Lens,” we affirm the UDHR, the international human rights instruments and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These frameworks reflect state obligations to ensure that no one gets left behind while mitigating long term impacts of the pandemic. These tools provide both effective ways in which governments must be transparent, responsive and accountable, and ways in which civil society can play an essential role in keeping our world inclusive and sustainable. They can be used for recommendations and for guidance towards systemic transformation as well as for policies and laws which are to be adopted to “build back better.”

In that spirit, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ theme for this year’s annual commemoration is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.” The COVID-19 crisis has been exacerbated by gaps in human rights protections, deepening poverty, rising inequalities, and structural and entrenched discrimination. The global pandemic has emphasized the need to close these gaps, and advance universal access to human rights, including health, food, water, shelter, education, and freedom from violence and discrimination. A just and sustainable recovery and resilience for future crises are only possible if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination. Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our interconnectedness, the need for global solidarity, and the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want.

From the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Human rights must be at the center of the post COVID-19 world:

“End discrimination of any kind: Structural discrimination and racism have fueled the COVID-19 crisis. Equality and non-discrimination are core requirements for a post-COVID world.

Address inequalities: To recover from the crisis, we must also address the inequality pandemic. For that, we need to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights. We need a new social contract for a new era.

Encourage participation and solidarity: We are all in this together. From individuals to governments, from civil society and grassroots communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We need to ensure the voices of the most affected and vulnerable inform the recovery efforts.

Promote sustainable development: We need sustainable development for people and planet. Human rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the cornerstone of a recovery that leaves no one behind.”

Messages to: Cecilie Kern - Global Policy & Research Advocate, MIA MGA

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