Human rights must not only be available to privileged: UN chief

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United Nations, 25 Feb 2021: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that human rights must not only be available to the privileged few and joint efforts must be made to deliver them.


“Much like Covid-19 vaccines, human rights will not lead to a healthier world if they are only available to the privileged few,” the UN chief told the UN General Assembly briefing on the Call to Action for Human Rights.


Addressing the Human Rights Council, Guterres on February 24 last year launched a Call to Action for Human Rights. He said these rights are powerful tools for preventing conflict, reducing human suffering and building a just and equitable world, the Xinhua news agency reported.


“We need renewed, concerted, global determination to ensure the protection of human rights of all people, everywhere and in all situations,” the UN chief briefed member states exactly one year after the release of the call.


“We must all join forces to deliver,” the top UN official added.


“Only by working together can we forge a new social contract that reflects respect and protection for all people and is rooted in universal human rights,” he noted.


“As we enter the second year of the Call to Action, I look forward to working closely with all of you to fulfil the highest aspirations of the people of the world – human rights and dignity for all,” said Guterres.


Noting that with the support of member states over the last year, he said that the Call to Action “is making important progress.”


The UN family is working together to ensure that human rights are at the heart of Covid-19 socio-economic response plans, he said.


After elaborating on some of the areas where progress has been made, the UN chief noted that the UN will launch a first-of-its-kind “One Stop Digital Shop,” bringing together a wealth of resources on implementing human rights in the digital space.


“Our enduring challenge is to transform the promise of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into real-world change on the ground. It is to look at our contemporary challenges with a human rights lens,” said the UN chief, noting that “this is why my Call to Action extends beyond the UN family.”


It is also a call to all member states, to parliamentarians, to the business community, to civil society and to people everywhere, he said.


“We shoulder a collective responsibility. Transformative change will take the full commitment and support of us all,” said the secretary-general.



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