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UN Human Rights Chief lays out “Path for Solutions” for years to come

February 28, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today offered a vision statement, with “signposts for the years to come” for human rights, as the world navigates an array of challenges.

Addressing the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Türk said the statement contained eight messages to guide renewed action for peace; economies that work for people and planet; effective governance; and guardrails for digital and scientific progress.

“It broadens the way we think about rights, in ways that can transform societies and our global community,” he told delegates, adding he hoped the plan would inform world leaders coming together for the Summit of the Future in September.

Titled “Human Rights: A Path for Solutions”, the statement was informed by extensive engagement with a range of actors following the year-long Human Rights 75 Initiative last year.

Seventy-five years ago, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signalled a new era of progress towards human dignity and agency for all, Türk said in the statement. “In retrospect, we have come a long way on that journey, but we are at a precarious moment and cannot take things for granted,” he added, citing devastating conflicts, the triple planetary crisis, skyrocketing inequalities, and new powerful technologies whose risks are yet to be grasped.

“As we confront these challenges, we recall the Declaration’s conviction that, no matter the context, it is through respect for human rights we craft a better future for ‘our human family’.”

In a world increasingly characterized by fragmentation, the High Commissioner said the year-long Human Rights 75 commemoration had allowed a rare opportunity for collective reflection on the trajectory for human rights, its successes and failures, and on the current crisis of implementation. “It is precisely at these moments, where freedoms are so imperilled, that the Declaration and the global human rights framework it seeded are most needed. Division, unequal outcomes and unsolvable crises are not an inevitability,” he said.

Türk set out the following eight messages which form the backbone of the vision statement: 

  1. We have a strong global constituency for human rights: it must be supported and given the space to innovate;

  2. To end cycles of conflict, we must put human rights at the centre of prevention and peacebuilding;

  3. We must transform our economies with equality and sustainability at the core;

  4. Environmental action, including on climate change, must be grounded in human  rights;

  5. Governance must be responsive: through full participation and by ending impunity;

  6. Human ingenuity must be in the service of humanity: technology and science that uplifts all;

  7. It is time to go beyond voice: youth and children must be included meaningfully in decision-making and we must act on behalf of future generations;

  8. None of this can be achieved without strengthening our human rights system.

“When the Declaration will reach its centenary, our world will be in so many ways unrecognizable,” the High Commissioner said. “Reshaped by megatrends, more unknown unknowns and intensifying complexity. Two paths open up: One of enlightened cooperation and solidarity, stable and seeking balance with our natural world. The other, unmistakably dystopian.”


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