Parliamentarians mark 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its impact on the Commonwealth
Every year on 10 December, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adopting the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In its preamble, the UDHR highlighted the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
In the decades since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, human rights have become more recognised and more guaranteed across the globe. The UDHR has since served as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protection that today focuses also on vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrants.
The commitment to human rights is supported in the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Charter and many Commonwealth Parliaments routinely highlight and debate international human rights issues.
The 2023 Human Rights Day theme is ‘Freedom, Equality and Justice for All’ with a commitment to ensuring respect for human rights and equality for all citizens, especially the marginalised and vulnerable who are often the first casualties in any erosion of human rights protections.
The evolving role of Parliamentarians and of Parliaments is to ‘step up’ as key enablers of human rights and to act as a check and balance on the policies of the Executive. This important role of Parliament sitting as it does at the centre of a nation’s domestic and international affairs should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Recently, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held a workshop with Parliamentarians and civil society groups on ‘The Commonwealth Charter: A Charter for all Human Rights, or just some?’ at the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Ghana.
This workshop deliberated how Parliamentarians and civil society groups could promote and uphold human rights values in the Commonwealth with discussions highlighting gender equality, the protection of the rights of LGBT+, parliamentary capacity-building, disability and refugees’ rights. CPA Members were encouraged to promote human rights legislation and policies in their respective jurisdictions and the need to respect different cultural rights was also highlighted.
FROM THE CPA ARCHIVES: Read the CPA blogs with different perspectives on human rights in the Commonwealth:
- The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities network, Hon. Laura Kanushu, MP writes about equality and the rights of persons with disabilities.
- Madhurima Dhanuka from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative writes about safeguarding the rights of the increasing numbers of people held in detention across the Commonwealth.
- Hartwell Mhunduru from The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) writes about how human rights relate to one another and how important it is for all maginalised communities to unite in the struggle for freedom, dignity and justice.
- Senator René Cormier from Canada outlines how advancing human rights for all is an incremental initiative but we must show courage to face every challenge.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance.
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