December 10, 2009
   Posted in News Flash
Published By Tashi
Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Human Rights Day

10 December 2009

The concept of non-discrimination lies at the heart of human rights.For
this reason, it has been designated the official theme of this Human
Rights Day, which occurs every year on the anniversary of the adoption
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And for this and
many other reasons it should be an unofficial theme every day, every
year, for everyone. Twenty-six of the Universal Declaration’s
30 Articles begin with the words “Everyone…” or “No one…” Everyone
should enjoy all human rights. No one should be excluded.  All human
beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. 
Non-discrimination must prevail. Today, we have a whole range
of rights-based international treaties imbued throughout with the
concept of non-discrimination.  These include, for example, Conventions
on the rights of the child, rights of people with disabilities, rights
of refugees and of migrant workers; Conventions dedicated to the
elimination of racial discrimination and discrimination against women;
as well as treaties dealing with labour, health and religion. These
legally binding standards are complemented by important UN declarations
detailing minority rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.These
international laws and standards are supported by thousands of national
and regional laws and institutions. Quite a few countries now have
truly universal education, and a smaller number have universal public
health systems. Taken together all of this marks an extraordinary
celebration of humankind’s ability and aspiration to create a world of
equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. And many millions
of people have benefited as a result.People of all sorts have something to offer. When we embrace diversity, we bring extra richness and depth to our societies.Yet discrimination is still rampant. Women
work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the
world’s food, yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own
less than one percent of the world’s property. Despite significant
improvements over the past century, women and girls are still
discriminated against to some degree in all societies and to a great
degree in many. Every day countless numbers of women are sexually or
physically abused, and the vast majority of their abusers go unpunished
and future abuse is undeterred.Minorities in all regions of the
world continue to face serious threats, discrimination and racism, and
are frequently excluded from fully taking part in the economic,
political, social and cultural life available to the majorities in the
countries or societies where they live.Similar problems face
the estimated 370 million indigenous people who make up five percent of
the world’s population, but 15 percent of its poorest people. They are
often marginalized, deprived of many fundamental rights – including
land and property – and lack access to basic services.Racial
and ethnic discrimination are also to be found all across the planet,
and remain one of the most dangerous forms of discrimination. Left
unchecked, or actively fanned, they can all too easily lead to hatred,
violence, and – in the worst cases – push on up the scale to full-blown
conflict, crimes against humanity and genocide. Discrimination
based on religion or belief can be equally destructive. In certain
countries, members of certain groups are restricted in how they can
exercise their religion or belief and deprived of their fundamental
rights. In extreme cases such conditions may lead to sectarian
violence, killing and conflict.  Stereotyping can lead to
stigmatization and isolationism.Refugees and migrants are
widely discriminated against, including in rich countries where men,
women and children who have committed no crime are often held in
detention for prolonged periods. They are frequently discriminated
against by landlords, employers and state-run authorities, and
stereotyped and vilified by some political parties, media organizations
and members of the public.Many other groups face discrimination
to a greater or lesser degree. Some of them are easily definable such
as persons with disabilities, stateless people, gays and lesbians,
members of particular castes and the elderly. Others may span several
different groups and find themselves discriminated against on several
different levels as a result.Those who are not discriminated
against often find it hard to comprehend the suffering and humiliation
that discrimination imposes on their fellow individual human beings.
Nor do they always understand the deeply corrosive effect it has on
society at large. Discrimination feeds mistrust, resentment,
violence, crime and insecurity and makes no economic sense, since it
reduces productivity. It has no beneficial aspects for society
whatsoever. Yet we continue to practice it – virtually all of us –
often as a casual reflex, without even realizing what we are doing. I
would therefore like to encourage people everywhere – politicians,
officials, businesses leaders, civil society, national human rights
institutions, the media, religious leaders, teachers, students, and
each and every individual – to honour Human Rights Day 2009 by
embracing diversity and resolving to take concrete and lasting actions
to help put an end to discrimination.

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