Today, December 10, marks Human Rights Day, instituted by the United Nations to honor the proclamation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Among other things, it seeks to drive advocacy for the respect, recognition and protection of all forms human rights.
Abuse of human rights takes many shapes in Africa. Suppression of the right to freedom of expression and association, violation of the right to life and property, and the denial of access to basic social services are common occurrences in Somalia, Libya, Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria and the DR Congo. More often than not, the violation of these rights occurs in situations of conflict and instability, terrorism, and in dictatorial regimes. These abuses strip victims of their life, dignity and personal properties. More perniciously, it lays to waste the social, economic and political institutions vital to the development of states in Africa.
Nonetheless, other African countries have made significant strides in the recognition and respect of basic human rights. Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, among others have fully developed strong human rights regimes backed by constitutions. The rights of citizens are upheld, respected and protected by state institutions.
The theme for this commemoration is “Stand Up for Human Rights.” It seeks to celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights. In celebrating this day, countries, especially those plagued with violence and civil unrest, must take concrete steps to uphold and protect the rights of their citizens.
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