Human Rights Day

Speech: UN Resident Coordinator ai Ziad Sheikh at the NHRC Human Rights Day

Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014



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Right Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Sushil Koirala
Honorable Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Mr. Anup Raj Sharma
Mr. Man Bahadur Nepali, Chairperson National Dalit Commission of Nepal
Ms. Seikh Chand Tara, Chairperson, National Women Commission of Nepal
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to speak here today on behalf of the United Nations in Nepal.

We are here to celebrate International Human Rights Day. I would like to recall a quotation from SecretaryG Ban Ki Moon who said that there is virtually no aspect of our work that does not have a human rights dimension. Whether we are talking about peace and security, development, humanitarian action, the struggle against terrorism, climate change, none of these challenges can be addressed in isolation from human rights.

On 10 December every year, Human Rights Day commemorates the date on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

This year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights. Human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with shared ideals and values.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises to all, the economic, social, political, cultural and civil rights that underpin a life free from want and fear. The power of the Declaration is the power of ideas to change the world. It tells us that human rights are essential and indivisible – 365 days a year. Every day is Human Rights day: a day on which we work to ensure that all people are equal, free and live with dignity.

The peace process in Nepal is at a crucial juncture many expectations hinging on the writing of a new Constitution by January 22. Constitutions include principles, which set the stage for rights and protections. It is important for Nepal at this phase to guarantee that the provisions related to human rights of all groups’ regardless of caste, gender, socio-economic status, geographic location and political affiliation, thus ensuring the fundamental rights of Nepalese people.

For the victims of the conflict, we need to bring about a transformation so that they can deal with the past. We must not forget the pain and lack of closure which victims and their families are still living with. Cases of grave human rights abuses committed by all sides during the conflict should be promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially addressed. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on the Enquiry for Disappeared should be established, in full compliance with both Nepali and international law. The UN encourages a holistic approach to transitional justice, consisting of National Consultations, Truth-seeking, Criminal prosecution, Reparations programmes, and Institutional reform.

Nepal is yet to address victims of conflict-related sexual violence and torture. As a first step, it should be public recognition by state authorities of survivors of these crimes as conflict affected persons. This recognition would allow the survivors, their families and communities to understand that they are not to blame for what happened, enabling the first step of healing and opening an opportunity for survivors to seek assistance.

An effective national human rights protection system is the key to long term human rights protection and promotion in Nepal. The UN remains committed to strengthening the capacities of the National Human Rights Commission, and national institutions including the National Women Commission and the National Dalit Commission, civil society and human rights. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the National Human Rights Commissioners on their appointment.

This year, Nepal was reviewed in the human rights committee and in the economic, social and cultural rights committee for the implementation of its international obligations for human rights in the domestic level. I congratulate the Nepal government for its professional presentation of the reports in the UN treaty bodies. At the same time, we encourage the government to follow up on the recommendations made by these committees and to link these recommendations in the UPR next cycle, 2015. The UN is committed to support the Government in this.

I would like to end by wishing you all a very happy human rights day.

Thank you.