Statement by Secretary General Thomas E. Garrett

Human Rights Day

10 December 2022

I join the Civil Society Pillar and Member States of the Community of Democracies in observing Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long campaign to celebrate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In today’s world, where authoritarian states and anti-democratic political trends undermine human rights norms, the promotion of the Human Rights Charter is more important than ever.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is at the heart of the Community of Democracies’ Warsaw Declaration, which outlines core democratic norms and values. The Warsaw Declaration’s Principle 19 calls for all human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political, and social – to be promoted and protected, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. Among shared values of the Warsaw Declaration are equal access to information, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.

Violations of fundamental freedoms occur in many parts of the world. In places such as China, Iran, and Myanmar, authoritarian regimes impose repressive measures against their people. Peaceful protests are met with harsh repressions; arbitrary detentions and violence against citizens, journalists, and human rights defenders are a grim reality of daily life.

Since 2014, the Russian Federation perpetrated human rights violations in eastern Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea; following its unjustified attack across Ukraine in February 2022, the Russian Federation has extended its violation of human rights through torture, gender-based violence, and summary executions across the geographic center of Europe.

Strengthening multilateral human rights-based architecture and democratic solidarity is crucial to ensure the complete protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Democracy is the only system of governance that fully benefits all human rights. The Community of Democracies, through its work with Member States, its Civil Society Pillar, and engagement with multilateral bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council, will continue to defend democratic values, support people’s universal rights to freedom, and #StandUp4Humanrights.