NPWJ statement on Human Rights Day

20 Dec, 2021 | Press Releases

Guaranteeing universal and equitable enjoyment of human rights requires measures to ensure vulnerable peoples are heard and represented at a local and institutional level. 

On International Human Rights Day this 10 December, No Peace Without Justice reiterates its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights across the world.  

In celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we also welcome the UN’s decision to relate this year’s theme to ‘Equality: reducing inequalities and advancing human rights’. As enshrined in Article 1 of the Declaration “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. We believe it is essential that this includes the recognition of unique needs, vulnerabilities and strengths of each individual and community. 

In all its programs and advocacy activities, NPWJ purses a path towards equality that avoids generalisation but incorporates the recognition of human differences and specific necessities. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that affect the most vulnerable people in societies, including women, children, indigenous peoples, LGBTQI+ communities, migrants and people with disabilities, among others. 

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban on 15 August 2021, Afghan women and girls have been gradually forced to disappear from public spaces. In some provinces, they have been denied access to workplaces and schools, deprived of their human dignity and, in the worst cases, been killed. Protection centres are under attack and the people that work in them are suffering persistent harassment. Nevertheless, despite the brutal gender-based repression that continues to mark the Taliban regime, countless women and young girls keep raising their voices against injustice and in support of tolerance and equal treatment.  On this day, as on every day, we stand with the women and girls of Afghanistan and join our voices to theirs in demanding better.

The same is true in the Amazonian region, where thousands of indigenous peoples are striving to counteract the persistent destruction of their surrounding biodiversity by the private sector, backed by national governments and states authorities. For those communities, defending ancestral lands means not only protecting their primary source of livelihood but also safeguarding a crucial part of their social and cultural traditions.  On this day, as on every day, we stand with the indigenous communities of Amazonia and join our voices to theirs in demanding better.

Other serious human rights violations also continue to occur in Myanmar as multiple armed conflicts between the military and several ethnic armed groups resume. Since the escalation of the conflict in 2019, cases of forced labour, arbitrary detention, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and other ill-treatment of civilians by government troops have sparkled across the country. National authorities have significantly limited access to independent media and human rights monitors in conflict-affected areas, with journalists and media outlets facing pressure, intimidation and harassment for reporting on “sensitive” issues. The Rohingya community continue to be targeted; on this day, as every day, we stand with them and join our voices to theirs in demanding better.

Further violations, such as those related to gender-based violence, happen globally due to deep-seated stereotypes and structural power inequalities which cause discrimination and violent patterns. Harmful practices such and FGM and child marriage also stem from a common patriarchal root. Nowadays, according to UNICEF-UNFPA estimates, 650 million living women and girls globally were forced to marry before 18, with 12 million girls forced into child marriage every year. 200 million women and girls in 30 different countries have undergone FGM. On this day, as on every day, we stand with women and girls, joining our voices to theirs demanding better.

Guaranteeing universal and equitable access to justice and human rights requires measures to ensure these affected peoples and communities are provided with the means to be informed, heard and represented at a local and global level.

Recognising the value and importance of those who suffer and are at risk of human rights violations as agents of change, NPWJ calls for comprehensive national and international actions to strengthen their fulfilment and compliance. Afghan women, indigenous peoples and Rohingya activists are iconic and tireless examples of the resilience and expertise that must be endorsed to improve political, civil and social rights in turbulent and unstable areas. Working towards this direction, we firmly commit to standing alongside vulnerable peoples, advocating for their involvement in decision-making processes and pushing for their central role in leading national and international change.