Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement in Berlin today (10 December) to mark international Human Rights Day:
Sixty-six years ago today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. The principles formulated then remain valid to this day, above all that which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Respecting and promoting universal and indivisible human rights is an essential element of our policy – both at home and abroad.The world faces no fewer challenges today than it did back then. Persecution of religious and other minorities; torture; restrictions on freedom of speech; insufficient respect for economic, social and cultural rights, or the right to water and sanitation, or the right to adequate housing; increasing limitation of space for civil society and reprisals against human rights advocates, to name but a few – all are violations of human dignity which the international community must be utterly consistent in combating. We will continue to push for the protection of human rights at the national and international level, both in dialogue with other countries and in international organisations, the United Nations above all.Our Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Joachim Rücker, has just been elected as President of the UN Human Rights Council for 2015. Ambassador Rücker has my warmest congratulations. I wish him the best of success with the challenging task of leading the Council in its key mandate – to protect and advance human rights worldwide – and building bridges among its members. I take the choice of Ambassador Rücker simultaneously as an expression of the international community’s faith in Germany as an advocate of protection for human rights and as a call to us to continue determinedly along that road.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. It enshrines the fundamental rights of all humans in 30 articles, starting from the basic tenet in Article 1 that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
In June 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council replaced the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Council has 47 member states and convenes three times a year (in March, June and September) as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. Together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the treaty bodies, the Human Rights Council constitutes the chief intergovernmental human rights element of the United Nations system. Its core duties are to monitor the human rights situation around the world, investigate violations of human rights and advance international human rights standards.