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Human Rights Day – high-level human rights conference focuses on issues of the future

Foreign Minister Maas speaks at the high-level human rights conference

Foreign Minister Maas speaks at the high-level human rights conference, © photothek.net

10.12.2019 - Article

Today, on Human Rights Day, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will participate in discussions at an international conference on current challenges in protecting human rights: women’s rights, climate change, new technologies and the nexus between economic affairs and human rights.

In the 21st century, human rights are coming under pressure

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been the basis for the global promotion and protection of human rights ever since it was adopted after the end of the Second World War in 1947. With the emergence of new challenges in the 21st century such as climate change, the progress of technology, striving for gender equality and efforts to strengthen the role of women in societies around the world, the question arises of how these issues affect the international protection of human rights.

Foreign Minister Maas had the following to say:

The international protection of human rights will be one of our top priorities during Germany’s parallel membership on the Human Rights Council and the Security Council of the United Nations, as we pursue joint efforts there.

Foreign Minister Maas will meet for talks today with his counterparts, Marie Eriksen Søreide from Norway, Francois-Philippe Champagne from Canada and Miro Cerar from Slovenia, and with Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and former Icelandic Foreign Minister, as well as with representatives of international organisations, the business community and civil society.

The conference is being held in connection with the Alliance for Multilateralism, which Foreign Minister Maas established together with a number of his colleagues. It will focus on how human rights can be implemented and protected globally, especially in today’s rapidly changing world. This means addressing more traditional human rights causes such as the fight against torture, the death penalty, enforced disappearances, and discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other grounds as much as it does tackling emerging issues.

Women’s rights, climate change, new technologies and the nexus between economic affairs and human rights

The discussions in the Weltsaal at the Federal Foreign Office will be attended by several hundred invited guests, and special emphasis will be placed on the issues of women’s rights, climate change, new technologies and the nexus between economic affairs and human rights. How can the freedom of opinion and expression be protected on the internet? How can we create a more gender equitable internet? What does the rise in sea levels mean for the right to enjoy a life in freedom? Are human rights being sufficiently taken into account in international economic relations? Expert workshops will focus on these questions in the afternoon.

The conference will also host the awarding of this year’s Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

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