Human rights day is celebrated on the 10th December, annually, across the world
The day was chosen in honour of the United Nations General Assembly adoption and proclamation on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR provides “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” It specifically provides that every “individual and every organ of society” shall promote “respect for these rights and freedoms…by progressive measures…” The goal was “to secure their effective recognition and observance”. As its title suggests, it is universal. This means that it applies to all people and peoples, in all countries the world over. Although it is not binding, it is a declaration which seeks to protect the human rights and freedoms of people. Its tenets and provisions are the basis for Constitutions of different countries, as well as national legal frameworks. It was the first of its kind, to be adopted by the United Nations. The Declaration clarified human rights which were vaguely referred to in the United Nations Charter.
Human Rights Day is recognised as a day for reaffirming the basic rights to which everyone is inherently entitled, as a human being, irrespective of their race, colour religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, social standing, birth or any other status. It also reaffirms the responsibility to protect human rights. Responsibility includes standing up to societal corruption, encouraging equal work opportunities, enabling of access to education and holding governments accountable to the citizenry.
This year’s theme is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.” One of DITSHWANELO’s EU – funded projects is aimed at improving access of vulnerable groups to legal redress, increasing capacity and coordination amongst lawyers addressing human rights, protecting vulnerable groups through coordinated support and the strengthening of capacity and commitment of civil society organisations in addressing human rights issues. This is in the context of the WHO – declared global pandemic as well as the States of Emergency implemented by the government of Botswana. DITSHWANELO, working on interventions aimed specifically at prison inmates and detainees, indigenous peoples, and undocumented migrants, observed, that during the State of Emergency (SoE), there were incidences which can be described as a suspension of adherence to the Constitution, by the state. This abrogation of rights has created increased vulnerabilities among these already marginalised communities. Observing the constitutional provision that “no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty save as may be authorised by law”, there is need for Botswana, especially at this time, to adhere to her international obligations and commitments.
This year’s theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back communities and societies, better, by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.
This year, the International Day of Human Rights is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of Human Rights in re-building the world and the Botswana in which we all want to live. It is also an opportunity to stand in global solidarity, rooted in interconnectedness and in our shared humanity – botho.
DITSHWANELO calls on the Government of Botswana to commit to and act in accordance with call to “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.” By actively recognising, promoting and protecting the Human Rights of all those in the country.