On 10 December, we commemorate Human Rights Day, in remembrance of the Day on which, sixty eight years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year's theme is Stand Up for Someone's Rights!, that calls each of us to make a difference and step forward and defend the rights of anyone at risk of discrimination or violence.
This is an important reminder in the life of all of us, every human being, since it reaffirms the need to respect the inalienable rights of each and every one of us, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, social origin or any other status. It also serves as a strong reminder of the struggles of millions of people all over the world, throughout the decades, to advance the cause of human rights, as well the rights of their communities, the need to uphold them, the obligation to respect them.
“Human rights, such as communities’ rights, women’s and children rights, or right to freedom of expression, are core EU values”, said Nataliya Apostolova, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo/EU Special Representative.
“Kosovo has a progressive legal framework on human rights, but its implementation is weak, as pointed out also in this year’s Kosovo Report. More needs to be done to guarantee property rights, rights of LGBTI community and of people with disabilities, protection of cultural heritage and against gender-based violence. Kosovo also needs to address issues of return and reintegration of displaced persons, so that attacks on returnee families become unacceptable form of pressure on people who have already suffered a lot.”
On this day, the Head of EULEX Mission Ms Alexandra Papadopoulou reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Mission to the respect of human rights, as well as the Mission’s determination to impress upon and assist all competent authorities our common obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all people in Kosovo, without any discrimination whatsoever.
“Respect for human rights is a fundamental part of any democratic society. As the EULEX executive mandate reduces, it is essential that local institutions step up their efforts to guarantee the human rights of all people in Kosovo. The Mission stands ready to advise and assist judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies to fulfil their human rights obligations”.
Ms Apostolova and Ms Papadopoulou also emphasised the importance of the role of the civil society and human rights defenders in promoting and protecting human rights in Kosovo.
“Through their commitment and strenuous work, these brave women and men are making sure institutions are held to account for human rights violations”.
Ms Papadopoulou and Ms Apostolova reinforced EULEX’s and EUSR/EUO commitment to mainstream human rights and gender in all its activities in line with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019.