Each year on 10 December, Human Rights Day marks the date on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reflect on 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 and that those rights bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.
As every year, there are a number of events happening in Kampala and across Uganda to mark Human Rights Day, organised by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Ugandan civil society organisations. Staff from the British High Commission and DFID Uganda are participating in a number of these events, including a ‘Peaceful Procession’ organised by UHRC and presided over by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The UK Government is committed to upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration, both at home and around the world. This is certainly true here in Uganda where all of our work is underpinned by the idea that sustainable development can best be achieved in an open and democratic society in which all citizens, regardless of race, colour, gender, religion or sexual orientation have freedom, dignity and choice. As such, the promotion and protection of human rights is an important part our dialogue with the Government of Uganda, parliament, civil society, the private sector and the international community. It is also an important objective of our programme activity.
To give just a few examples of the work we have done to promote and support human rights in Uganda since the last Human Rights Day:
- Supporting the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to draft a Bill for the enforcement of human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Ugandan constitution (this built on our previous support to the Committee in developing a Checklist for Human Rights Compliance).
- Helping the Human Rights Network (HURINET) to gather input from Ugandan civil society organisations to feed into the National Action Plan for human rights.
- Working with ReTrak, the Greater Manchester Police, the Uganda Police Force, Kampala City Central Authority (KCCA), the Government of Uganda and civil society to address the issue of street-children living and working on the streets of Kampala.
- Hosting a ‘mini summit’ in Kampala, bringing together government, police, army, civil society and academics to support the campaign to end sexual violence in conflict (this coincided with the Global Summit in London this summer which put this important issue at the heart of the international agenda).
As well as Human Rights Day, 10 December will also mark the culmination of the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence. Supporting the government’s efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls is a key component of our development support in Uganda. Danny Graymore, Head of DFID Uganda, is today speaking at the National Annual Gender Based Violence Conference organised by Action Aid in co-ordination with DFID and UNFPA.
Looking ahead to 2015, promoting respect for human rights and the principles of the Universal Declaration will remain a crucial part of our work. I encourage civil society organisations to consider submitting bids for the UK Human Rights and Democracy Programme and to look out for information on the British High Commission’s Bilateral Programme for 2015/16 which will appear on this website in the New Year.
The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is #HumanRights365. It is a reminder of our obligation to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration today and every day.
FCO Minister Tobias Ellwood blogs for Human Rights Day
FCO Minister Hugo Swire blogs for Human Rights Day