Delegation of the European Union to the Lao PDR

"A Magna Carta for all mankind" - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 71 years

Cairo, 10/12/2019 - 12:12, UNIQUE ID: 191210_41

English version of the op-ed of Ivan Surkoš, Ambassador of the European Union to Egypt, that was published in Arabic in Shorouk daily newspaper on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day.

On 10 December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a world emerging from unseen war and destruction, it was the first international agreement on the basic principles of human rights. The Declaration was composed by participants from all over the world, from different cultural, legal and political backgrounds. Egypt was among the key countries participating in the drafting of the Declaration, part of a strong movement also ensuring that the voices of Arab and African participants and developing countries were heard, and all citizens given part in the same fundamental rights, equal in our humanity.

The anniversary of the declaration is an occasion truly worth celebrating and remembering, as a true breakthrough and a formative document for the international community and the United Nations. Then as now, the concept of human rights is not uncontroversial, but the Declaration was passed unanimously, thus highlighting our commonalities and what we share as common fundamental rights, despite our differences. Few documents have remained as relevant through the decades and its principles have indeed proven universal and timeless. Regardless of "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status", they belong to all of us: Equality before the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right to public trial, freedom of speech and of assembly, freedom of movement within and between countries, the right of political asylum, and the principle of elective government by universal suffrage. These political rights are fundamental elements of human dignity and the Declaration is the proof of a world united behind them. It also confirms the right to education; the right to a decent standard of living; to healthcare; to choose your spouse; to a fair wage and to organised labour – all are remaining challenges and yardsticks of progress across the world, in Europe and in Egypt, as we work together to realise this 71-year-old dream for all our citizens. This remains the key responsibility of every government in the world. Sustaining prosperity necessitates working together for the security, but also for the fundamental rights and freedoms of people, and only a country which grants not only responsibilities, but also freedoms to its citizens can survive through times of turbulence.

The world, however, does not stay unmoving and new challenges emerge. A key priority for the new EU leadership currently taking office will be the threat posed to people's livelihood by climate change and environmental constraints. Today when we talk about human rights, we also have to talk about it from the perspective of environmental issues. Human rights and environmental challenges are closely interlinked and affect people and their fundamental rights all over the world, and they affect the most vulnerable in society the hardest, and threaten the stability that our societies are built upon. The people who defend these rights for all of us, even in the face of high personal cost and deprivation, deserve our utmost respect and gratitude, but do not always get it. They often suffer dearly for their courage and resolution, but today of all days we remember them and their hard work that helps make the world a better and safer place for all of us. And we celebrate the Declaration as something that unites us in humanity across the world, marking us as equals and empowering us in shaping our international community.

Link to original article in Arabic:

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