By Bettina Muscheidt, EU Head of Delegation
Once per year, on 10 December, the world marks Human Rights Day. This year’s motto is ‘every day is human rights day’. It is a commemoration of the adoption – 66 years ago – of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. This Declaration was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of the war the international community vowed to never again allow atrocities like those of that conflict to happen again. In practice mankind has struggled to fully achieve this goal everywhere and free the world of conflict.
Yet, in Europe we have seen the change as we listened to parents and grandparents telling us about the wars. We – those generations born after the devastating World Wars of the 20th century – have been fortunate to grow up in peace.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not for picking and choosing – because it is universal. With Yemeni citizens Article 3 will resonate in particular: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. This article is a powerful reminder that human rights are no luxury reserved for the better off nations. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is about our very elementary existence – and co-existence – as human beings. The respect for Human Rights also was at the heart of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, a promise that Yemen’s citizens rightly want to see translated into practice.
Today, Yemen still has more Small Arms and Light Weapons than most other countries in the world. Every day Yemeni citizens die in conflict, mostly at the hand of their fellow countrymen. Others, often innocent bystanders, get injured in attacks, scarred for life.
But Yemen also has to contend with a long-term, structural humanitarian crisis that takes lives and will have an impact felt beyond the current generation. Conflict, in turn, is the most significant obstacle towards economic and social development. It makes it hard, sometimes impossible for a government to deliver services to the population and international donor funding cannot be converted into projects to change people’s life for the better.
In 2014, the International Human Rights Day`s theme – Human Rights 365 – reflects the aspiration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times, is entitled to the full range of human rights.
With a new government in place Yemen is ready to resume its peaceful transition, mindful of disastrous alternatives to be avoided. The senseless loss of lives in recent weeks, again of civilians and notably children, is a stark reminder of what Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights really means: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Yemen’s citizens need this right to become reality.