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Statement of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force on the Occasion of Human Rights Day 2011

December 10, 2011
On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force (LNTF) of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) recalls and reaffirms the hopes that have been raised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 63 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly.

With the wave of popular protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa and the toppling of authoritarian regimes, 2011 was a year that put human rights on the front pages of every newspaper. The empowerment of the individual has rarely been more central in world events. With it, the importance of the United Nations in promotion and protection of human rights has grown accordingly.

Throughout the year, as individuals have spoken out demanding their rights, and the right to be free from repression, the United Nations human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council and its special procedures, have paid heed.

The Council's special procedures, who are independent experts, have played a vital role in exposing human rights abuse throughout the world and calling for immediate action to protect the victims. These experts were among the first in the UN system to denounce the killings and grave violations of human rights in Syria earlier this year, just as they have addressed so many other specific abuses in countries experiencing repression.

Whether the issue is freedom from torture or freedom of assembly, protecting housing rights, or the right to education, the Human Rights Council has created a special investigator to respond promptly, indeed urgently, demanding protection case by case, country by country. Often unseen in the world's media, these special investigators embody the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which affirms that everyone has rights because they are human, and that no one has a right to destroy these rights as they are, indeed, inalienable.

There is still much that could be done to strengthen these human rights mechanisms. But today, on Human Rights Day, we salute these independent experts, and we encourage them and the Human Rights Council to intensify their efforts to protect individuals worldwide. We call on the nations of the world to ensure the 'special procedures' have the capacity to carry out this life-changing and life-saving work and encourage states to respect and implement their recommendations.

Members of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force:

Felice Gaer, Chair
Diego Arria
Kirk Boyd
Joshua Cooper
A. Edward Elmendorf
Toby Gati
Robert Rifkind
Nancy Rubin
Lawrence Moss
Susan Myers
William vanden Heuvel
Joanna Weschler

The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force is a team of citizens knowledgeable and vitally concerned about international human rights and the role of the UN and the US in protecting those rights. The Task Force was active in urging the US to seek membership on the Council and, as a member, to appoint a knowledgeable ambassador to the Council so as to maximize US engagement and leadership. We believe that US active participation in the Council has in fact met with real achievements that have promoted the values and interests of the US as well as progress toward a more just and peaceful world.
Labels: Advocacy

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