Amnesty urges action for Human Rights on UDHR's 60th anniversary

Amnesty International is calling on governments to make the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) a time for action not just for celebration.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The UDHR’s 60th anniversary is a cause for celebration but it would best be marked by today’s world leaders showing the vision of their predecessors and recommitting to human rights as the way of dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century.

“In the last 60 years there has been real progress towards the hopeful vision for humanity that the UDHR set out in 1948, but there is still a long way to go. Massive challenges lay ahead. Torture and the death penalty should be consigned to history; so should locking people up just for their peaceful beliefs. We must also tackle violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.”

Significant advances been made since 1948. The International Criminal Court has been established and prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity have taken place. Executions have been ended in more than two thirds of the world. Progress has been made towards arms control. ‘People power’ has been boosted by the establishment of organisations such as Amnesty International and the network of individuals defending human rights all over the world.

However, Kate Allen warned:

“Despite progress in the past six decades, injustice, inequality and impunity persist in too many parts of the world. Governments should take responsibility, but individuals can play a part too. We need to recognise that human rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhere.”

Amnesty is calling on people to take action to help make the UDHR a reality. It is launching a compelling new online film, “You Are Powerful”, showing the power of individuals to protect the rights of people all over the world. The film initially shows ordinary people in their everyday environments then shows them again, this time amid scenes of human rights abuse, protecting and helping individuals at risk.

The organisation is asking people to speak up for people whose human rights are under threat by sending them a message of solidarity as part of its Greetings Card Campaign ( www.amnesty.org.uk/gcc ). One of this year’s cases is Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a Zimbabwean activist group whose members have been repeatedly arrested and harassed while taking part in peaceful demonstrations. This year two WOZA leaders – Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu - were arrested and detained for six weeks after engaging in peaceful protest against state-sponsored violence.

Jenni Williams said:

“The international solidarity that I see manifested through Greetings Card Campaigns has really helped me to remain committed to our struggle in Zimbabwe to free ourselves and to make sure our Children's rights have a future.”

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