10th December – International Human Rights Day The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a document still relevant to our times

United Nations, Praia. 10th December 2011 – On Human Rights Day, we do more than celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, we are recognizing its relevance to our times, affirmed the UN Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, in his message honouring the anniversary. “Human rights belong to each and every one of us without exception”, he added.

According to Ban ki-Moon, unless we know these rights, unless we demand that they are respected, and unless we defend our right – and the right of others – to exercise them, human rights will be nothing more than words on an old document.
The importance of human rights has been underlined over and over again during the last year. All around the world people are mobilizing to demand justice, dignity, equality, greater participation – all of which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration, added the UN Secretary-General, highlighting its enduring relevance and importance.

In Cape Verde the day was marked with a prize-giving ceremony for the 2011 National Human Rights Prize, which this year consisted of five categories: Individual, Scientific Work, NGOs, Community Groups, and lastly Combating Violence and Promoting a Peaceful Culture. According to Zelinda Cohen, President of the National Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship, who spoke during the prize-giving ceremony, Cape Verde is considered a problematic country with regard to human rights and this issue must be confronted as part of an ongoing process. The winners of the National Human Rights Prize will receive a sum of money and a trophy featuring the competition’s symbol named ‘Pomba Crioula’ (Creole Dove), created by the artist Leão Lopes and supported by the UNDP. 

Nevertheless, the organizers admitted that there are still challenges to be met in Cape Verde, namely those concerning gender-based violence and violence against children. These, among other issues, were identified in the recently published Annual Report on Human Rights, and produced with the financial and technical support of the United Nations in Cape Verde, specifically the UNDP.

For Zelinda Cohen, the publication of such a report in Cape Verde constitutes a big step with regard to respecting human rights, and she will fully support those who work on behalf of promoting them.

In Cape Verde, the United Nations through its agencies, in this case the UNDP, has supported national governments in undertaking activities that promote human rights and citizenship, both in the preparation of reference documents as well as public awareness campaigns and advocacy.

The UN General Assembly met in 1950, including any member states and organizations interested in establishing Human Rights Day, to honour 10th December as the day upon which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948.

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