“Why We Stand for Human Rights,” delivered by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was the third Jacob Blaustein Institute Human Rights Lecture, presented at an event in New York City.
In the lecture, available here, the High Commissioner asks “What is happening to us?” and expresses dismay about the global retreat from human rights. He criticizes a number of world leaders, including presidents of Russia and China. He cites particular alarm at rhetoric from various Western officials and responds to the remarks by the US president before the UN General Assembly. Zeid characterizes the latter speech as “One part chauvinistic nationalisms. One part balance-of-power swordplay and a crumbling adherence to law…” Recalling that “we have been here before,” the High Commissioner suggests that limiting international and domestic policy to security and sovereignty, and failing to include human rights considerations, will lead to calamitous results.
The High Commissioner concludes with a compelling response to the threats facing human rights today: “What would change the trajectory, would be the existence of a world-wide wave of popular support for universal human rights – pushing, prodding, holding their governments to the mark, and shaking-up the slumbering politicians. We must now intensify, greatly, our advocacy and expand our reach in a manner that is without precedent.”
The publication of Zeid’s lecture also contains a brief introduction by JBI Director Felice Gaer. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the lecture, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.