New York, 17 September 2018
Launch of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative
At a high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly on 27 September, the EU together with 13 partners from all over the world launched the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative, a cross-regional coalition of countries to whom human rights matter.
The participating countries include: Argentina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Georgia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, The Gambia, Tunisia and Uruguay.
At a time of aggressive attempts to undermine the universality and indivisibility of human rights, including through spreading of negative practices and narratives, this initiative aspires to create a fresh positive narrative on human rights in the world.
Its central focus is on good human rights stories and on inspiring the implementation of human rights-based policies and open consultative processes in all fields, by identifying, sharing, showcasing, and promoting positive examples.
The examples that foster peace, development and security through human rights, a narrative that advocates resilient democracies and inclusive societies.
The launch event took place in the presence of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, High Representative Federica Mogherini and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
In her opening remarks, High Representative Mogherini said “Human rights are not a ‘nice to have policy’, an abstract concept that only concerns those in New York or Geneva who spend so much time talking about them. It is not an elite thing. As our stories today show, human rights are real; they improve lives for millions of people; they strengthen societies and charter the path for a better collective future for humanity”.
The EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis added “human rights are not a romantic undertaking, they are not a ‘luxury’ but they are both an obligation to our peoples’ dignity and a central way to achieve key government priorities”.
There could not be a better moment for launching the Good Human Rights Stories coalition than the year devoted to the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In their joint communiqué “the members of the initiative fully supported the UN Secretary General’s pledge marking the 70th Anniversary, including the commitment to “stand up” for everyone’s rights”.
The stories vary from the examples showcasing different forms of engagement between the state and the civil society for the better social and economic development of the countries (Burkina Faso, Korea) through the ones presenting the comprehensive frameworks aiming at women’s empowerment and combatting gender violence (New Zealand, Tunisia) or anti-torture mechanisms and reforms of the penitentiary system which have significantly improved prison conditions and rehabilitation (Georgia).
The EU story highlights the improvements made for people who are victims of crime and how their lives changed for the better since the EU adopted a law three years ago which better defends their rights (EU Victims Directive). The EU story also features those who assist victims to overcome their trauma, exercise their rights and find the help and treatment they need.
→ Remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
→ Remarks by EU HR/VP Federica Mogherini
→ Remarks by UN Secretary General António Guterres