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BGIPU Vice-Chair speaks on IPU adoption of Declaration on UDHR

On 16 October 2018, during the 139th IPU Assembly in Geneva, there was a Special Session convened to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The session commenced with video on the Nelson Mandela centennial which was followed by an interactive debate moderated by Mr Marc Limon, Director of the Universal Rights Group.  Panellists included the IPU President, Ms Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Mr Toby Mendel, Executive Director, Centre for Law and Democracy and Ms Fawzia Koofi MP from Afghanistan.

There was the Launch of Handbook for Parliamentarians on Freedom of expression for parliaments and their members: Importance and scope of protection followed by a video address by BGIPU Vice-Chair, Ms Ann Clwyd MP, prior to the Assembly adopting a Declaration to mark the UDHR anniversary.

The full text of the declaration follows:


70th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a historic instrument drafted in the aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War by representatives from around the world with different legal and cultural backgrounds.

The fundamental rights in the Declaration have served, first and foremost, to uphold the inherent dignity of all human beings, and to contribute to the peace, security and prosperity of all nations.

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Declaration, we also remember and honour Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 100 years old this year. He personified the ideals of the Declaration and, in his own words, strived to uphold “the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”.

Over the course of his lifetime, the rights enshrined in the Declaration have been universally recognized, with States now bound in law to ensure their citizens benefit from them and can access appropriate remedies and redress when they are violated.

Yet these rights are still far from being a reality for many. Against the backdrop of growing authoritarianism, internal conflict, war, poverty and large-scale migration, we, as parliamentarians, feel compelled to reaffirm our commitment to the Declaration and its underlying principles in the following way:

.  As legislators, we commit to guaranteeing that the domestic legal framework complies with international and national human rights obligations and creates an enabling environment for inclusive participatory politics, a vibrant civil society and the rule of law.

.  As people’s representatives, we will do everything in our power to ensure that parliamentary discourse, proceedings, and outreach are rooted in, and promote, equality, liberty and justice.

.  We will do more to raise greater awareness of the Declaration among our constituents, and help them to access their rights thereunder.

.  As role models, we commit ourselves to inspire and energize our societies – particularly by championing the rights of those who are marginalized and persecuted, such as women, children, minorities, and others who are disenfranchised.

.  We commit to the Declaration by acting in solidarity with parliamentary colleagues worldwide whose fundamental rights are being violated and raising their cases at the appropriate forums and with the relevant interlocutors, as well as by supporting the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

.  We will do everything in our power to support human rights defenders, the often “invisible Mandelas”, risking their freedom and lives to uphold the rights of others, who merit the recognition and support of parliaments, especially in light of the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.