This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Human Rights Day

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, yesterday the world marked Human Rights Day

2014. This year’s Human Rights Day was themed ‘‘Human Rights 365.’’

 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that this theme:

          . . . celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us,

          everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong

          equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and

          values.

 

On November 26, Europe’s top human rights prize was awarded to one man who lives by these

ideals and values. Dr. Denis Mukwege is the winner of this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of

Thought. He dedicated his prize to the more than 30,000 victims of rape and sexual violence treated

at his hospital in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Overcoming shortages in anesthetics and electricity in a region where rape has been used as a

weapon of war, Dr. Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital has been described as ‘‘a beacon of hope and

refuge for survivors of gender-based violence.’’

 

Human Rights Day also comes in the wake of Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day.

Holodomor Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of millions of victims of Joseph Stalin’s

agricultural collectivization policies in 1932 and 1933. It also reaffirms our commitment never to

allow food to be used as a weapon again. Yet starvation and sexual violence continue to be used to

dehumanize and to destroy human beings.

 

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights reminds us:

          . . . recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members

          of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. . .

 

Yet human rights remain a distant aspiration for girls forced into marriage, for boys forced into

labour, for religious minorities and political prisoners, for ethnic minorities, for LGBT communities

and so many more.

 

Senators, let us reaffirm our respect for human rights. Let us uphold the international covenants that

make respect for human rights the responsibility of all nations, 365 days of the year.