World mourns Nelson Mandela on Intl Human Rights Day
Human Rights Spokesperson
10 December 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
The world mourns Nelson Mandela on International Human Rights Day
As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, it is appropriate to remember today is International Human Rights Day, says Labour's Human Rights spokesperson, Maryan Street.
“The 10th of December was marked as International Human Rights Day in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted as the common standard for all nations.
"As the world mourns, we should reflect on those parts of the world where human rights are neglected and violated every day.
"It might be in the Central African Republic, where the rule of law has broken down, or in Sri Lanka where war crimes are not being prosecuted, or Russia, where gay and lesbian Olympic athletes are not permitted to be themselves, or the Rakhine region of Burma where Muslims are stateless and deprived of identity, where violations of human rights are either ignored or upheld by unjust laws.
"These areas of stark conflict are some of the more obvious examples of the current trampling of human rights. But even in New Zealand, we need to remain vigilant about our commitment to international human rights obligations and to the upholding of our own liberties.
"The National-led Government has overseen an increase in poverty and the number of children living in poverty. That is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Government must always prioritise the protection of children.
"John Key was not prepared to join the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, in disputing Sri Lanka's chairmanship of the Commonwealth while they had past and present human rights abuses not yet resolved. In one fell swoop, John Key damaged New Zealand's international reputation as a defender of human rights.
"This is the day when we should recognise that both at home and abroad, we must remain vigilant about the protection of human rights and hold the Government to account for their human rights record," Maryan Street says.