The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are holding a three-day seminar on the achievements and challenges of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sixty years after its adoption.
Legislators from some 50 national parliaments are attending the seminar along with international experts (see list attached). The event was opened by Ms. Elissavet Papademetriou, Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee and Second Vice-President of the Hellenic Parliament, and Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division at the OHCHR.
The seminar is part of the IPU’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of parliaments to promote and protect human rights. Since 2004 the IPU yearly seminars have given chairpersons and members of parliamentary human rights committees an opportunity to exchange views with international experts on human rights issues. This year, the seminar will analyse the international legal human rights framework which has been set up since the adoption of the Universal Declaration. In addition, it should help to pinpoint ways in which parliaments can respond effectively to challenges to the promotion and protection of human rights.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights gave increased legitimacy to human rights issues worldwide and put them firmly on the agenda of national governments and the international community. Yet, along with these achievements, the last sixty years have also shown that, in the absence of political will and adequate resources, full respect for human rights has yet to become a reality. Economic, social and cultural rights in particular have fallen by the wayside. More recently, the fight against crime and terrorism has put a strain on fundamental rights. Some, moreover, feel that increasing claims for respect of cultural specificity appear to challenge the very notion of the universality of human rights.