[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
On Thursday, 10 December, Human Rights Day 2009 will be marked, with a focus this year on non-discrimination. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will observe the occasion in her home country, South Africa.
Although 60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," today the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.
"Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all," says High Commissioner Pillay, who will participate in an event at Freedom Park in Pretoria which will feature a performance from the famous South African singer, Yvonne Chaka-Chaka.
Ms. Pillay encourages people everywhere - including the UN family, governments, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, educators, and individuals - to seize the opportunity of Human Rights Day 2009 to join hands and embrace diversity and end discrimination.
The realization of all human rights - social, economic and cultural as well as civil and political – is hampered by discrimination. All too often, when faced with prejudice and discrimination, political leaders, governments and ordinary citizens are silent or complacent, she notes.
Yet every one of us can make a difference.
All – including staff - are encouraged to mark Human Rights Day 2009 by advocating non-discrimination, organizing activities, raising awareness and reaching out to their local communities on 10 December and throughout 2010.
"We count on your support and participation to make this year’s focus on non-discrimination a success", says the Office of the High Commissioner.
At Headquarters in New York, a special Human Rights Day event, entitled “Race, Poverty and Power," will take place on 10 December at 1:15 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. A video-message from Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon will also be broadcast on the YouTube page of the UN and on the UNifeed web site.
Also in New York, Human Rights Day is celebrated over the course of a week, which started with a special event to mark the 30th Anniversary of the major international body of law prohibiting discrimination against women – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It will be followed by the 12th annual student conference on human rights planned over two days with an international discussion via video link of students in New York, France and Mexico as a finale.
And in Geneva, women from 28 countries will convene for an international summit, "The Courage to Lead: A Human Rights Summit for Women Leaders". The gathering is a collaborative effort convened by the Eleanor Roosevelt Project and Vital Voices Global Partnership with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner and the International Labour Organization. The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang will deliver a key-note address to delegates who will focus their discussions on the protection of human rights for women and the best ways women leaders can contribute in their own countries.
Find out more on a special Human Rights Day webpage.