UN Marks 75 Years Of Human Rights Declaration
Life & Style

UN Marks 75 Years Of Human Rights Declaration

The U.N. human rights chief urged countries to work together to defeat threats such as war and pollution at an event marking 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, risking overshadowing by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Speaking in Geneva, Turk invoked the spirit that led to the adoption of the declaration in 1948, responding to what the document calls “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

Turk characterized the event as a “call to hope” and a “call to action,” highlighting the declaration’s historical impact, including the end of racial segregation in the U.S. and apartheid in South Africa. However, he acknowledged present-day challenges, citing conflicts, famine, discrimination, repression, and pollution.

The Israel-Hamas conflict loomed over the event, with Turk expressing concern about the suffering of millions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza. Despite the declaration’s milestone, the world currently faces 55 active conflicts, the United Nations reported.

In communications about the two-day event, Turk’s office has avoided the word “celebrate” in referring to the anniversary, preferring instead the term “mark.”

While Turk emphasized a call to overcome polarization, other U.N. officials conveyed a more somber tone.

Lynn Hastings, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said human rights were under assault more than two months after Hamas’ deadly cross-border attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, followed by a retaliatory Israeli bombing campaign.

“In 2023, I should not have to issue such a statement,” she said. “It is as if we have learned nothing in the past 75 years.”