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Brussels, 10 December 2016 – On the eve of the commemorations of the 68th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 2016 as well as of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 16th December 2016, the European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH) wants to point out that rights are not the problem, but the solution. While they are often put into question, they must never be turned off.
The world lives a severe crisis of instability. From everywhere, the cries of the forgotten, the imprisoned and the maltreated persons can be heard. Some of them flee zones of war and insecurity and if they manage to survive the journey, they stumble at the shores of countries that do not consider reception as unconditional. Others do not know how to survive any longer; how to drink, eat, sleep in countries where misery, exploitation, discrimination, hunger and, slow, or so to speak economic death are on the daily agenda. Some of them are refugees, others are migrants. All of them are women, children, men whose dignity should be recognised and respected by everyone.
Today, hundreds of millions of persons survive with resources representing not even the thickness of the statistical line of the wealth of a very small minority of predators. Today, 10 % possess 50 % of the wealth whereas 50 % possess only 10 %, not forgetting the 1 % of super-rich people overburdened by the weight of their gold. Today, the overexploitation of the planet contributes to this extreme polarisation of wealth. The greed on the one side is matched by death on the other side.
Today, the political situation in a number of countries in the world shows that the crisis of the distribution of wealth is met with challenges to public freedoms and the rights of persons. While deadly ideologies of the far-right had been confined to the margins of political discussions, today they have returned on the steps of power, influencing debates and decisions, bringing back words, speeches and actions that we thought would be impossible to observe again. Attacked from all sides, democracy, in all its dimensions, the political and the social one, has to be defended.
In the European Union that was supposed to be founded on a high degree of guarantee of rights for everyone, on the basis of a programme of integration that should further the convergence of situations and equal treatment, the dominant narrative of the governments of member states is now the return to the motto of “every man for himself,” even when the official narrative continues to be European. Some member states have returned to putting forward mythic national identities which would result in the restriction of rights due to the supposed or actual origin, sexual orientation, beliefs, colour of skin.
The world does not live of too much rights; it suffers from the lack of their implementation. The universality of rights is not to be put into question, but their limitation is. It is not the indivisibility of rights that is wrong, but the choice to implement only some of them that makes it unsound. It is not the inalienability of rights that undermines them, but on the contrary their devolution to everyone that is too limited. Their implementation requires all our attention, your attention. AEDH calls on everyone who believes in equal dignity for all to stand up for the rights of everyone and to join it and follow its actions.
Dominique Guibert, President
AEDH, European Association for the Defence of Human Rights
Rue de la caserne, 33
Tel.: 0032 (2) 511 21 00