Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called on the Filipino people to rally with renewed passion behind the promotion and protection of human rights, especially against flagrant abuses and attacks across the world.
In her message for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), De Lima said the Filipino people should demonstrate their strong commitment to defending the dignity and rights of individuals.
“We must come together in our common defense of human rights. We cannot remain quiet and rely passively on governments. We the people ourselves have to act – act urgently and in solidarity with one another,” she said.
“Let us all shine our light for dignity, freedom and equality of everyone. Each has the power and the duty to make a difference – to make our homes, communities, countries, and our world safer, just and more humane for all of us,” she added.
For De Lima, every individual – regardless of his/her position in the society – has “the power and the duty to make a difference to make our homes, communities, countries, and our world safer, just and more humane for all of us.”
In 1948, the UDHR was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in Paris. The assembly later passed a resolution declaring every December 10 as International Human Rights Day to commemorate the day the UDHR was adopted.
De Lima noted that the “extraordinary document” was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to be promoted by education, and, more optimistically, by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”
“For 70 years since its adoption, the UDHR has been a bedrock of freedom and equality all across the world, lifting the lives of billions of people in the planet, influencing almost a hundred national Constitutions and inspiring numerous international, regional and national laws, institutions and mechanisms,” she said.
Although seven decades have already passed since the birth of UDHR, the lady Senator from Bicol expressed concern that the world continues to face an almost endless barrage of attacks on human dignity and freedom.
The obsessive attacks against human rights, De Lima said, remain rampant not only in the country under the rule of an authoritarian leader, but is also widespread in various conflict-stricken places, including Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and a number of countries in Central America.
“But, causes for continued optimism remain. Still intact are the admirable legacy of the UDHR, the endurance of some relevant conventions, treaties and international law, and the resilience of a vibrant global human rights movement. Hope springs eternal for human rights,” she said.
Last February, De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1699 which seeks to institutionalize and enforce state obligations for the protection of the rights of human rights defenders, but the measure has remained unacted upon by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights chaired by Sen. Richard J. Gordon.