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How can we place human rights at the heart of our actions?

Human rights have frequently been termed as modernity’s greatest achievement. But it is time when fresh thinking on human rights is sorely needed – both within the continent and on the global stage. FRA Director, Michael O'Flaherty, shared his vision of human rights and innovation for a more inclusive and sustainable future in a TedTalk in Varese on 6 November 20022.

In the run-up to the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ 75 years anniversary, he underlined the importance and relevance of human rights to society and people everywhere today.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights. These are the words from Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he says. “For me these words are a fact, a vision and a challenge.”

At the same time, he shared his concerns about human rights’ current position in the world. He spoke of how human rights are being neglected in the responses to societal problems. He also pointed to some governments that use some rights but ignore others. In addition, for many people human rights are considered irrelevant to them.

Moving forward, he made some suggestions. As a start, we must acknowledge what is at stake if we allow human rights backsliding. We also need to refamiliarise ourselves with human rights instruments and do a better job to frame our claims for fair and just societies.

But we cannot, and should not, do this alone. Ultimately, we must work together to respect, defend and promote these rights.

Taken all these elements together, “we can indeed realize the vision of a world where everyone is free and equal in dignity and in rights,” he concludes.