Work on human rights is never ending


IT is time for all law-abiding and right-thinking citizens to reflect if they have upheld the conviction that respect for human rights is essential to the prevention of conflict and the promotion of human development.
Yesterday, Papua New Guinea, like many other countries in the world, held various events and activities to mark Human Rights Day.
The United Nations General Assembly on Dec 10, 1948, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And its timing so close after the end of World War II was no coincidence.
Sadly, the international community has often fallen short of its commitment to human rights, and PNG falls into that category too.
Conflicts, poverty, corruption, inequality, violence, discrimination, exclusion and climate change continuously wreak havoc on individuals and societies throughout the world.
Too often human rights are ignored when addressing those crises, and solutions have rarely been sustainable or satisfactory for all concerned.
Too often, governments fail to address the underlying human-rights grievances that cause war and impede sustainable development.
The starting point is recognition of the three pillars upon which the United Nations is built: Peace and security, development, and human rights.
There is no hierarchy among them, but often, they have been put in competition.
Some regimes have suggested that individual rights must take a back seat to security and development.
Peacekeeping is one among a range of activities undertaken by the United Nations to maintain international peace and security throughout the world.
World peace is an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or people.
It generally includes an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.
Here in PNG, we do not have to look for examples as we have our in-country warfare to deal with.
Tribal conflicts being one, gender-based violence, sorcery accusation related violence, police abuse, discrimination against those who are HIV positive and those with disabilities.
The UN says for much of its history it has focused its efforts in the realm of peace and security on keeping and enforcing peace in the world’s hotspots.
Recently, UN member countries have recognised the wisdom of efforts to prevent conflict, rather than merely to end it; to build the conditions for peace and security, rather than merely to keep and enforce it; and to focus development on sustainability, rather than simply on growth.
And that is the road PNG should take in dealing with its in-country issues.
International financial institutions as well as businesses should also put human rights at the centre of their policies.
We welcome the UN’s new and increased focus on conflict prevention and peace building.
Likewise, we welcome the focus on sustainability of development, rather than development, per se.
We will remain vigilant about how this shift increases respect for human rights in the quest for peace, security and human development.
We salute the role that civil society actors can play in this context and call on all concerned, in particular the UN and states to preserve and enhance the space for engagement and cooperation with civil society actors.
As educated individuals, it is time to stand together, even in smaller groups, and through our actions stress the importance of respect for social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights of individuals and all peoples in the pursuit of peace, security and sustainable development.