Our rights, our freedoms, always: campaign to celebrate human rights begins

At a time of great anxiety and tumult in the world, it is good to remember the stability that can come from the two covenants that underpin much of human rights law – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

“These two great covenants are the building blocks, the backbone of the human rights architecture we have in place,” he said. “We need to spend time analysing the work. . . and reinforce the central messages they contain. And then we need everyone to bind together to convey these key messages.”

Zeid made his comments at the launch event for “Our rights, our freedoms, always” a year-long campaign highlighting the work of the two covenants. The campaign marks with 50th anniversary of the covenants, which takes place in 2016. The campaign will focus on increasing awareness of rights and freedoms enshrined in the covenants.

Actor Daniel Brühl (Good-bye Lenin!, Rush) was also on hand to lend his support for human rights with a monologue at the event.

“As an actor, I have often been involved on projects that deal with political and social subject matter and these projects have sometimes brought me to places where human rights are disregarded and not respected,” he said before the monologue. “It made me understand how lucky I am to live in a safe bubble. But it also showed me how important your work at the UN is. Your dedication, your efforts to preserve and protect human rights and freedoms are admirable and inspiring.”

The launch, which took place in Geneva of the 49th Anniversary day of the Covenants, featured presentations from Maria-Virgina Bras-Gomes, a member of the ICESCR committee, Fabian Savioli, chair of the Human Rights Committee, which manages the ICCPR, and speeches from Ambassador Veronika Bard, from the Permanent Mission of Sweden on behalf of the Permanent Missions of Finland and Sweden and a representative from the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation.

The event took place among a photographic exhibition provided by the European Press Photo Agency (EPA) depicting some of the freedoms and rights from the two Covenants. Maria Mann, Director of International Relations for EPA, called on attendees to view the exhibition and note how photographers on the front line of the issues depict rights and freedoms.

“There are good and bad issues, but as you peruse , I hope you think about them and see that they are very much akin to what you are trying to achieve in your work,” she said.

17 December 2015

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