Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 10 is International Human Rights Day. This year's focus is on non-discrimination. In the words of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay: "Discrimination lies at the root of many of the world's most pressing human rights problems. No country is immune from this scourge. Eliminating discrimination is a duty of the highest order."
The promise of equality without discrimination has been part of every major human rights treaty in the last 60 years starting with the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Unfortunately, the eradication of unlawful discrimination has been more difficult and is taking longer than many people imagined. Numerous UN General Assembly resolutions condeming discrimination and multiple treaties to combat discrimination against specific groups have been adopted, including the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And yet, much remains to be done. While many of these treaties have wide participation (CEDAW currently boasts 186 parties for example), implementation in domestic laws lags behind.
For ideas on ways to "Embrace Diversity and End Discrimination," in honor of International Human Rights Day 2009, see the United Nations wepage on International Human Rights Day.