In the present scenario of Human Rights challenges, the United Nations emphasised the need for fresh thinking and bolder political leadership to tackle the present complex challenges.
Presenting the annual UN Human Rights Report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said, “tackling current complex challenges requires fresh thinking and bolder political leadership to address abuses and find solutions.”
In the report, the UN body said that the present human rights landscape is compounded by conflict, discrimination, poverty, shrinking civic spaces, and the emergence of new human rights challenges such as the rise of artificial intelligence and surveillance.
The UN Human Rights Chief also raised concern of Human Rights violation in about 40 countries.
“Fresh thinking, political leadership, renewed commitments, and dramatically scaled-up financing, with the centrality of human rights at their core, are urgently needed to meet these challenges,” he said. “We need to regain the space where we can discuss human rights in a constructive and open spirit,” he said.
VICTORIES AND VIOLATIONS
Detailing a snapshot of victories and violations across the world, Türk outlined some of the major drivers of the most grievous human rights abuses, from war to climate change, and how stakeholders can work towards a more inclusive, sustainable, and rights-based future.
“Full cooperation with my Office and our field presences – as well as with the various human rights mechanisms – is about just that: solutions,” he said. “It’s about results. It is not a lightning rod for criticism, and not just engagement for engagement’s sake. It’s about concrete results for the lives of people.”
TACKLING WEAPONIZED CONTEMPT
The UN Human Rights Chief mentioned that one quarter of humanity live in conflict-affected places. “Peace is fragile and “must be nurtured first and foremost, by respecting the UN Charter and international law,” he stressed.
Indeed, contempt for the human being reaches agonizing levels when war breaks out, and violence becomes a daily occurrence, he said.
Discrimination and racism are also virulent threats to human dignity and to all human relationships, he added.
“They weaponize contempt; they humiliate and violate human rights, fuelling grievances and despair, and obstructing development,” he said. This includes “vicious hate speech” directed at women and girls, people of African descent, Jews, Muslims, LGBTIQ+ people, refugees, migrants, and many others from minority groups.
Deep structural harm rooted in racial discrimination can be seen in the violence that is so disproportionately inflicted on people of African descent by law enforcement officers in some nations.
RISE OF CONTEMPT ONLINE
“I am shocked to the core by the contempt for women, and women’s equality, that is spawned across the internet by some so-called ‘influencers’, feeding social attitudes that make it possible to ignore, or even condone, gender-based violence, and the pervasive commodification of women,” he said.
More generally, the scope and magnitude of discrimination against women and girls makes this one of the most overwhelming human rights violations worldwide.
From unparalleled repression on Afghanistan to forward strides in legislation, from Sierra Leone to Spain, he said that dismantling rights violations “will be a major focus of our work”.
Structural injustices, abject poverty, and sky-rocketing inequalities also constitute pervasive human rights failures, he said.
“To face challenges of structural injustice and inequalities, we need to build economiesthat build trustin government and advance people’s rights and well-being,” he said. “A human rights economy is one in which the aim of advancing human rightsinforms all national economic, fiscal, monetary, investment, and business decisions.”
CALL OUT ‘FAKE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS’
From the conflict-ravaged Sahel region to the Pacific Island States, which are facing existential climate threats, he said transparent governance is critical to repair harms and build resilience. Climatefinance funds need to reach those most affected and most vulnerable, and they need to build in strong human rights safeguards.
“We must call out fake climate solutions,” he said. “I deplore the attempts by the fossil fuel industry at global climate talks and elsewhere to green wash their reputation and derail our goal of de-carbonization. This must be averted at the upcoming COP28 in Dubai, and we need inclusive, safe, and meaningful participation of civil society.”
Presenting a list of actions for every country, he encouraged public access to information on environmental risks and government policies, full participation and consultation on environmental laws and measures, and protection of those who raise concerns over environmental crimes, or policies that result in harm.
“Bashing climate protests, designing laws that unfairly restrict activities that call the public’s attention to climate harms, and allowing attacks on activists to go unpunished are tactics that harm all States and all human beings, and they need to be addressed, urgently,” he said.
“Let us use this year to go the extra mile,” he stressed.