Friday, 10 December 2010 03:00

Iraq and the United Nations commemorate International Human Rights Day

Baghdad, 10 Dec. 2010 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ad Melkert, and the Minister of Human Rights, Ms. Wijdan Salim, presided over a ceremony today, marking International Human Rights Day at UNAMI Headquarters in Baghdad. Senior government officials, representatives of diplomatic missions, United Nations agencies, the press and civil society organisations were in attendance.


Human Rights Day commemorates the United Nations General Assembly\'s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This year, human rights defenders who act to end discrimination often at great personal risk both to themselves and to their families, were recognised and acclaimed.

“One of our priorities in Iraq should be how to protect human rights’ advocates whether they are government officials, activists or organisations, as this will ensure Iraq stepping forward towards building a democratic State that respects the various rights of the Iraqi citizen”, Minister Wijdan said.

Minister Wijdan stressed that Iraq has made meaningful headway in promoting the respect, provision, and protection of human rights. She also noted that these achievements are “the first step towards building a human rights concept in Iraq. We still have much work in this area”.

SRSG Melkert recognised considerable achievements by the Government of Iraq towards meeting its human rights obligations and acknowledged the significant challenges that still lie ahead. He pledged the United Nations’ continued support for Iraq in meeting  these challenges.

“The UN has made it a priority to provide meaningful support to a national action plan for human rights. In line with our mandates, we will continue to provide technical advice to the Government and to the Independent High Commission on Human Rights, once established, on a range of human rights issues including the drafting of legislation. Capacity building initiatives and programmes with Government actors and members of civil society on human rights standards and their implementation will also be stepped up”, SRSG Melkert said.

The SRSG praised the courage of the Iraqi people “in the face of the many challenges and changes that have dramatically affected their lives over the past years”.

The ceremony included special performances by Iraqi schoolchildren and persons with disabilities promoting the values of tolerance and respect for diversity, while highlighting the need for all Iraqis to stand up against all forms of discrimination, including that directed at the most vulnerable segments of society.

Last modified on Friday, 10 December 2010 03:00

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