Day in, day out we see efforts to chip away at the bedrock of human rights on which Europe is founded. Human Rights Day on 10 December is a time to reaffirm our commitment to human rights and stand up for equality, justice and human dignity for ourselves and others.
“Not a day goes by without some human right being violated somehow. While this is not new, the human rights system is increasingly under attack,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “From the women at home to newly-arrived migrants, they all face intolerance that is far from the hopes of those that drafted and signed the Universal Declaration. We must all take a stand and uphold the values of equality, justice and dignity that have deep roots in European society.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a landmark achievement. By setting out universal values and a common human rights standard for everyone, it underlines how every person is born free and equal. It has helped shape human rights all over the world and in Europe has guided the development of the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU’s very own Charter of Fundamental Rights.
However, in practice rights are being challenged. Recent FRA surveys reveal how ethnic minorities and migrants across the EU continue to face widespread discrimination and harassment in the daily lives. Whether they were born in the EU or have been living here for years seems to make little difference; they are still being treated differently to the majority population.
Women too continue to be victimised, as recent reports and FRA’s latest paper show. Confronted with widespread gender-based violence, hate and discrimination, women’s well-being and ability to live full and active lives in society are being seriously challenged.
“Without concerted citizen action to uphold [universal human rights] close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world," as Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the Declaration’s authors put it. Human Rights Day calls on us all to ‘stand up for someone's rights today!’ It reminds us what we have achieved over the years to respect, promote and protect human rights. It also asks to recommit and re-engage in championing these rights for our shared humanity since whenever and wherever humanity's values of equality, justice and freedom are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.