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Human Rights Day 2017

Human Rights Day is an opportunity to express our personal commitment to human rights, which begin in small places, close to home, as Eleanor Roosevelt said.

On 15 Dec 2017

Each person can make a difference through large or small acts.

On 13 of December 2017, together with 400 guests, we commemorated the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, when countries with different histories, cultures, languages, and religions agreed on 30 articles to protect civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent.

Yet, they are not just State obligations: everyone’s engagement is necessary to make a difference.

Human Rights Day was also an opportunity to thank the partners of the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe: the European Union, State representatives, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations and human rights defenders.

For persons not yet familiar with our work, Regional Representative Birgit Van Hout presented the role and work of the Europe Office.

It is not necessary to go far away to stand up for human rights. Staff from the European Commission showed their individual commitment to the rights of prisoners by spending Human Rights Day with prisoners in Belgium for a football game, a project organised by La Balle aux Prisonniers with the support of UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe.

Highlight of the celebration was the screening of “A Small Act” in the presence of lead actor, Chris Mburu. The film shows the domino effect a small act can have.

It’s the story of a Swedish lady, Hilde Back, who sponsors a Kenyan boy’s education. When he finishes law studies, he sets out to find her and discovers she is driven by a strong personal commitment to justice and solidarity.

As Chris leads a UN career that takes him to document genocide and crimes against humanity in situations of conflict around the world, he also discovers Hilde is a Holocaust survivor.

The film narrates Chris’ quest to find Hilde and to honour what she did for him.

It also shows how he, in turn, helps other Kenyan boys and girls to pursue an education through the Hide Back Foundation.

Chris Mburu, who presently serves as UN Human Rights Representative in Rwanda, continues to campaign for free education as a human right for all without distinction.

The film was followed by a conversation with the audience, facilitated by Human Rights Officer Dima Yared. It illustrated how each one of us can stand up against injustice and for human rights.

“Reflect, promote, engage” – that was the powerful message echoed as we embark on a full year of initiatives to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!.