On Saturday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights marked International Human Rights Day in Baghdad, with calls for standing up for human rights and upholding these rights and protecting them through actions and policies that promote peace and inclusion.
This year’s Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. The Baghdad event was attended by representatives of civil society, ethnic and religious communities, people with disabilities, members of the Parliament, judicial and government officials and diplomats.
Keynote speakers included Ms. Ban Abdul Latif - an artist and human rights activist for disability rights – the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, Mr. Abdul-Raheem Al-Shammary, and Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Political Affairs, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin.
Children and teachers from the Mama Aysar School performed a variety of songs in celebration of human rights. Messages were read from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raed Al Hussein.
In his message, the Secretary-General said "Upholding human rights is in the interest of all. Respect for human rights advances well-being for every individual, stability for every society, and harmony for our interconnected world". The High Commissioner noted: “It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity".
Ms. Ban Abdul Latif emphasised the need for all sectors of society and the government to commit to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, especially women. “I am talking to you today as a human being, as an artist, an activist, and a woman with a disability.
What I have achieved in my life came with the support of my family and my own will and resilience. I do not remember that the government gave me any privileges, and I was struggling and wrestling with people without any disability who did not want to give me a chance, and all my circumstances were hard, harder than you think. As soon as I leave my home, I face obstacles.”
She added that there are many examples of achievements by people with disabilities, including women, and all they need is to be given the opportunity. Mr. Al-Shammary said that disregard for human rights in Iraq has led to conflicts and humanitarian crises.
In relation to the ongoing military campaign in Mosul, he said “the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee is enhancing its monitoring role and has put in place human rights monitoring mechanism at a newly established office in Qayyara, southern Mosul, in order to stop any possible human rights violations” during security vetting of IDPs.
He stressed this office needs support from all entities in order to perform its activities successfully. He thanked the United Nations for continued support for Iraq to promote human rights norms and values.
DSRSG Busztin called on all sectors of Iraqi society to stand together to protect the rights of all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender, or disability by focusing on actions that can promote peace and inclusion. We must seek practical solutions to fear and injustice, so that the Government of Iraq can protect the rights of all the Iraqi people in line with international law.”
The DRSG continued: There is a need to promote policies that stand for greater freedom and understanding and dialogue is a fundamental part of the process.
Human Rights Day, observed every year on 10 December, commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.