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More than 70 years since the formal adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is an urgent need for leaders to reassert its values and declare human rights as the lodestar of international affairs. Zeid Raad Al Hussein discusses the progress made towards this goal, the threats facing human rights today and where signs of hope can be found, drawing on the legacies of liberators like Nelson Mandela and the actions of contemporary activists worldwide.
Human rights lies at the heart of The Elders’ mission and the mandate bequeathed to the group by Nelson Mandela. The Elders always place respect for human rights at the heart of their discussions with world leaders, whether in China, Zimbabwe, Myanmar or the capitals of the P5 states. They also stand in solidarity with grassroots activists, offering private counsel and public platforms to support their vision of a fair and just society for all.
Photo credit: Julian Meehan
“The international community must demonstrate bold and innovative thinking. We do not have time for narrow and self-serving political leadership. Nor can we afford to turn inwards as our own countries begin to recover from the virus.” – Zeid Raad Al Hussein
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Member of The Elders
Zeid Raad Al Hussein is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, veteran UN diplomat, peacekeeping expert, and member of The Elders since January 2019.
An outspoken advocate for human rights in all its forms, Mr Al Hussein is not afraid to call out the powerful by name. He is currently serving as President and CEO of the International Peace Institute (IPI) in New York.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein’s address reflects on how to reassert human rights as the lodestar of international affairs. Achieving universal respect for human rights must mean an end to the hypocrisy by world leaders, and the international community must exert credible pressure on leaders and regimes who do not respect human rights norms.
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