Human Rights Day: Commonwealth Leaders must take strong steps to ensure Freedom, Dignity and Justice for All

Human Rights Day: Commonwealth Leaders must take strong steps to ensure Freedom, Dignity and Justice for All

10 December 2022

London / New Delhi / Accra

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The theme this year is “Freedom, Dignity, and Justice for All’.

On this Human Rights Day, CHRI calls on Commonwealth leaders to take strong steps to demonstrate their commitment to international peace, security, democracy, rule of law, and the human rights of all people.

Over recent years, human rights have come increasingly under threat from evolving, global challenges including public health crises like COVID-19, conflicts in several regions, environmental exigencies including climate change, and digital threats such as misinformation and online surveillance.

Despite advancements made in science, technology, law, and social sciences, people around the world continue to be denied freedom, dignity and justice - and the Commonwealth is no exception. At 2.6 billion people, the 56 Commonwealth nations are home to over a third of the world’s population.

Thus the erosion of human rights in the face of current global challenges must reflect strongly in the strategies and policies adopted by Commonwealth leaders.

However, despite various international and regional conventions and treaties for the protection of human rights, violations continue to impact these populations. In addition, in the age of digital technologies, human rights are increasingly facing digital threats, including online surveillance, child pornography, online entrapment of persons vulnerable to trafficking, sexual harassment and gender based violence, online attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, to name just a few. 

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), through its three offices in India, UK, and Ghana has worked towards the practical realisation of human rights within the Commonwealth for over three decades, regularly publishing research and policy papers, conducting advocacy, and raising awareness and engaging stakeholders for action and change.

Some of our recent reports include:

·        Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Safeguarding the Rights of Pre-trial Detainees across the Commonwealth

·        Domestic Work is Work:  Using ILO Convention 189 to Protect Workers Rights Across the Commonwealth

·        Implementing Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation: A Guide to Accessing Information through Right to Information Laws

We call on Commonwealth states to tackle issues related to access to justice, right to information and media freedoms, contemporary forms of slavery, human trafficking and forced labour, and the violations and abuse of rights of those who are marginalised and in vulnerable situations.

The voices of these groups, including victims and survivors, must be amplified and heard to ensure that human rights are addressed through relevant laws, policies and programmes. CHRI urges governments to work with civil society organisations and other partners to ensure universal access to human rights.

On this Human Rights Day, CHRI reminds Commonwealth states that the deadlines for honouring human rights commitments are inching closer, with only seven years remaining for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and a mere two years until they meet in Samoa to review progress at the 2024 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Let’s not wait another year. We need to act now.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

London / New Delhi / Accra