United Nations celebrates Human Rights Week

Dec 8, 2014

Kuala Lumpur, December 8, 2014 – The United Nations Country Team in Malaysia celebrated Human Rights day by organizing a week long list of events to promote subjects on human rights.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia pledged the support of the United Nations System for the development of the National Human Rights Action Plan and Government’s response to the UPR recommendations.  “We are very encouraged by Malaysia’s increased engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, including the invitations to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in December last year and to the Special Rapporteur on Right to Health who recently concluded his mission to the country, and the UN Country Team is ready to support Government as it considers the recommendations from these visits and how some of the recommendations may be addressed in the 11th Malaysia Plan and the National Human Rights Action Plan, which would support achievement of the country’s national development objectives”.

She urged Government to “redouble efforts and guarantee that all are equal before and under the law, all have equal access to opportunity to maximise their potential, and that with tolerance and respect for the rights and dignity of each citizen, social cohesion and harmony will prevail for the continued advancement of this country and achievement of national goals.

The launch of the Human Rights Day 2014 was officiated by YB Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Governance and Integrity, which the highlight of the launch was an Interfaith Panel titled Harmony in Diversity: A Human Rights Based Approach that brings together government and non-government stakeholders in a constructive dialogue to discuss the harmony of faiths in Malaysia and the way forward. The panel featured four panelists whom are Ayang Utriza Yakin, PhD. Ustaz, Muslim Scholar, and Lecturer at the State Islamic University, Jakarta,Indonesia, Archbishop Julian Leow, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Sister Barbara Yen, Buddhist Maha Vihara and Prof. Dr. Suresh Kumar A/L P Govind, President of Sathay Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia.

Themed ‘Human Rights 365’ globally, the celebrations in Malaysia will be held over a week long list of events in different ways and underscore different human rights themes. The Human Rights week is in collaboration between the United Nations Country team, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF), the Bar Council Malaysia and the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM).

Michelle added, “This theme reiterates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status; and we are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination, everywhere, and at all times, 365 days a year.   Indeed, every day is human rights day.  ”

She went on to add, “Equally important to take account as we strive for the full realisation of these rights is that these rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. It is not a menu of rights from which we can select some but not others, or apply them to some people but not others.

This principle of universality is the cornerstone of international human rights law.”

During the launch, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also showcased their exhibition on Migrant Workers titled ‘Journey of Hope’ which is aimed to provide a positive image of migrants in line to their contributions to the economy and society.

Among the events to be hosted during the week are a round of human rights debates and a speech competition for law students; an interactive workshop on human rights topics for youth; a cultural performance and forum on the rights of indigenous peoples;  a public forum on the role of the UN Security Council in promoting peace, security and human rights; as well as a UN Dialogue on environmental rights in Malaysia, to mention a few. Members of the public that wish to find out more can visit http://www.humanrightsdaymalaysia.com for more details.

The Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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