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International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

As the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is celebrated tomorrow on International Human Rights Day (10 December), Amnesty International calls upon world Governments, including New Zealand's new National Government, to use this time for action not just celebration.

"The senseless killing in Mumbai, the thousands of people fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and hundreds of thousands more trapped in the dire conditions in Darfur, Gaza and Northern Sri Lanka creates a burning platform for action on human rights," says Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

It is against this backdrop to 60 years of the UDHR, that Amnesty warns that the world, including our own front yard, faces multiple challenges.

"New Zealand has come a long way in securing human rights victories but it is a grim fact that one in three of our women experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetimes, many of our children are denied adequate standards of living, and our indigenous people's customary rights have been put beyond their reach," says Patrick Holmes, CEO of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand.

"Our positioning in the Pacific also calls for the New Zealand government to address issues such as endemic violence against women in Papua New Guinea, attacks on freedom of expression in Fiji, and the threat of climate change refugees as sea levels rise in nations like Tuvalu and Kiribati," adds Holmes.

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The future for human rights lies in the hands of world leaders, and with the increasing risk of the global economic crisis throwing millions more into poverty, Amnesty is urging governments to protect economic and social rights with as much vigour as civil and political rights.

"The gift of the UDHR is that human rights are universal, where every person is born free and equal in rights and dignity; and also indivisible – all rights, whether economic, social, political or cultural – are equally important and there is no hierarchy of rights," says Khan.

"Despite progress in many areas from many areas in the past decades, injustice, inequality and impunity persist in too many parts of the world. The time has come for governments to set right six decades of human rights failures and deliver on their promises," says Khan.


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