“The leaders of every society should be listening to their people – and act in accordance with their needs and demands. All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives”, said Bachelet in her message on the Human Rights Day celebrated every December 10.
Bachelet said it is young people who will have to bear the full consequences of the actions, or lack of action, by the older generations who currently run governments and businesses, the decision-makers on whom the future of individual countries, regions and the planet as whole depends.
She said: “It cannot, of course, be left to young people alone to tackle the climate emergency, or indeed the many other human rights crises that are currently causing simultaneous turbulence in so many countries across the world. All of us must stand together, in solidarity, and act with principle and urgency”.
She said countries have a duty to ensure young people's voices are heard, noting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was a firm commitment by States to protect the rights of everyone – and that includes making it possible for future generations to uphold human dignity, equality and rights.
She said it is important to uphold the painstakingly developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice and sustainable development.
“A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a darker past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint”, said the UN high commissioner for human rights.
Bachelet said among the many human rights challenges that have been metastasizing during the first two decades of the 21st century; the global climate emergency presents perhaps the most profound planet-wide threat to human rights that since World War II.
The challenges caused by climate emergency include the right to life, to health, to food, water and shelter.
According to her, no country or community will be spared by the climate emergency as it intensifies since there are already vulnerable communities and nations suffering terrible damage.
She said people are losing homes, livelihoods – and lives. Inequalities are deepening, and more people are being forced into displacement.
“We must act quickly, and with principle, to ensure the least possible harm is done to human beings, and to our environment. Climate harms will not be halted by national borders – and reactions based on hostile nationalism, or short-term financial considerations, they will tear our world apart”, she noted.
Bachelet added that everyone has the right to live free from discrimination on any grounds, right to access education, health-care, economic opportunities and a decent standard of living.
“We, all of us, have a right to participate in decisions that affect our lives. This is about our future, our livelihoods, our freedoms, our security and our environment,” said Bachelet.
Theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights’. The Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.