[Today], the Commission on Human Rights joins nations and communities everywhere in commemorating International Human Rights Day and the 71st Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Over seven decades ago, world leaders convened to adopt the UDHR, a declaration that would form the foundations of core human rights treaties and establish core principles of human rights such as universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination. Just as human rights entail rights to individuals, states in ratifying the Declaration have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of individuals and groups against abuse.
The theme for this year’s observance is “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights,” which aims to celebrate the potential of youths everywhere as agents of change. Under the Commission’s continuing call for the promotion and respect for human rights and its primacy, we endeavour to show our support and encouragement to the Filipino youth — as an increasing number of them continue to stand up for their rights against violence, injustice and repressive state policies. As a nation, we need to harness the passion and commitment of our next generation of human rights defenders and create a safe and enabling environment for them to continue the fight.
We must remember that human rights should not only be celebrated every 10th of December. We need to defend and celebrate human rights every single day as they are the products of people’s lives and continuing struggles.
As we come to another year of this global observance, the Commission strongly calls for greater state accountability for all human rights violations in the Philippines and to end impunity that further aggravates the suffering of our people. Extrajudicial killings remain to be the biggest attack to human rights in the country as death toll continues to rise with the government’s anti-people policies. Killing of journalists, activists, farmers and other human rights defenders, has become more rampant as the existing political environment is hostile to any form of dissent. The poor peasants, workers, indigenous and Moro people, women, and the youth remain to be the majority of the victims of oppression and violence. But despite the setbacks, we have to celebrate our gains and build on the small and big wins of people’s movement to honour those individuals who sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Youth participation in nation-building, therefore, is essential to ensure a vibrant and healthy democracy. Empowering the youth to better know their rights while teaching them the lessons of the past will lead to a better tomorrow where everyone’s rights are respected.
Now, more than ever, we must come together as a nation and build the broadest coalition of human rights defenders for freedom and dignity of all, and continue to push back as we reaffirm our commitment to fight for people’s rights and against all forms of attacks against the Filipino people.
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