Human Rights Day 2015

Human Rights Day (HRD) is observed every year on December 10 as a commemoration of the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 HRD is being marked in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who first pronounced the four freedoms in his justly famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union speech.

HRD is devoted this year to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The two major human rights Covenants, together with the four freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights.

These international covenants and freedoms constitute an invaluable toolkit in the drawn out struggles of billions of people who live under the twin tyrannies of oppressive regimes and abject poverty. The International Bill of Human Rights are in fact consistent with the conceptualization of development in countries like Ethiopia as “freedom” for all citizens. These freedoms (human, social, civil, political, and economic) are embedded in globally recognized “rights.” These freedoms and liberties are ultimately justified not simply by virtue of the modern value of free citizenship but primarily by one’s birthright.

Ethiopiawinnet, as a rights-based civic organization, upholds the modern idea of free citizenship for all Ethiopians. We believe that rights come with responsibilities because rights are earned. Our own bill of rights, The Citizens Charter for a Democratic Ethiopia, embraces the universality, equality, and absoluteness with which rights are affirmed as a global norm by the covenants, articles, and protocols enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights.

We invite all to remember the tens of thousands victims of human rights violations in Ethiopia and elsewhere, and commit to seeing that all rights be respected in practice rather than on paper. We honor all brave defenders of the oppressed, and wish everyone a soberly reflective Human Rights Day! 

Tesfamichael MakonnenComment