It is a pleasure to welcome you back to what has become our annual celebration of Human Rights Day.
I cannot think of a better way to mark the anniversary than for the European Union to come together with our partners in the United Nations and Korean civil society. Our collective and individual efforts this year, in Korea and around the world, continue to provide a shining light for individuals struggling to defend their rights.
Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its core message is simple yet powerful: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
71 years later, the full implementation of the Declaration is still far from becoming a reality.
Now, it is time for the youth to pick up the baton.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child this year, we have chosen to place a special emphasis on the rights of children and young people for this event here in Seoul.
We all have been children, many of us have children and we all know they are our link to the future.
Throughout this year, the EU has joined the UN in the call to the youngest generations to raise their voices and change the world.
I am also pleased to see that Georgia has put child friendly justice at the centre of its presidency of the Council of Europe, the EU's complementary sister organisation in Europe.
Children and youth continue to be the main victims of human rights violations. In many countries they are forced to seek refuge, recruited as soldiers, forced into child labour or torn apart from their families against their will.
Closer to home, here in Korea, we see the threats emanating from new information technology, including sexual exploitation, the fanning of extremism and hate speech against minorities and other forms of cyber bullying which can even lead to suicide as we have recently tragically learnt. We shall also pay special attention to children with special needs in striving to build an inclusive society.
However, this afternoon should not depress you, but inspire you. Our speakers will mention challenges, but our collective presence here is good news. The most powerful force is seeing what can be achieved when the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child are realised. Our speakers today represent the realisation of those rights.
I look forward to the discussion.