Photo credit: Defenders CoalitionNAIROBI, Kenya, December 9th (IPS) – December 10th each year, we celebrate Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration guarantees a spectrum of human rights that belong to each of us equally, and unites us as a global community and supports our humanity.
This year 2020 was one of the unprecedented challenges and highlighted the need for renewed action to promote and protect human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has put societies around the world to the test, undermining human rights gains and advances in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In Kenya, the diverse effects of the pandemic – on gender equality, health, education, livelihoods, rule of law and the economy – have put the efforts of the government, the United Nations, development partners and civil society to the test in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Development Agenda and called on us to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.
The crisis has hit the poorest and most vulnerable communities hardest, anchoring existing inequalities, discrimination and human rights issues. Gender-based violence has skyrocketed; The loss of jobs and livelihoods continued to weigh on families. The right to education is at risk for many children, especially girls. Inequalities in access to water, decent housing and health services have increased vulnerability.
In this context, the theme of Human Rights Day 2020 is “Recover better – stand up for human rights“Emphasizing the need to better manage the COVID-19 crisis by placing human rights at the center of recovery efforts. This is a call to action and unified purpose to combat discrimination, eradicate inequalities, promote participation and solidarity, and promote sustainable development for the benefit of all.
As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres once remarked: “The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world.” The crisis has exposed and exacerbated deep inequalities, ingrained discrimination and gaps in the protection of human rights. Only action to fill these gaps and promote human rights can ensure that we fully recover and rebuild a world that is more resilient, fairer and more sustainable.
COVID-19 has created the opportunity to rebuild a more equitable and sustainable world – based on a “new social contract” that respects the rights and freedoms of all and removes the inequalities exposed by the pandemic. This “new social contract”, which unites governments, people, civil society and the private sector, is the only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this decade of action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, it is imperative to prioritize participation and inclusion to ensure we don’t leave anyone behind. Successful COVID-19 recovery efforts require solid civil society participation and community involvement to ensure that the voices and priorities of the most severely affected, vulnerable and marginalized people influence recovery efforts. Public participation is a central tenet of Kenya’s constitution and plays a key role in recovering from COVID-19.
It is clear that this pandemic cannot be overcome by a single actor. With this in mind, the United Nations Country Team and the Kenyan government are under the motto Umoja ni Nguvu (Unity is Strength) have identified strategic areas of cooperation and engagement under the United Nations Development Aid Framework and Socio-Economic Response Plan targeting the recovery needs of COVID-19 and continuing the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This is underpinned by a human rights-based approach that prioritizes equality and non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, and accountability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we are all together – and solidarity is the only way forward. Everyone has a role to play in building a better post-COVID world for current and future generations, and we must harness the active participation of communities, civil society, the private sector, government and the international community.
On this day of human rights we all want to work to stand up for human rights in order to build an equal and more sustainable society that promotes the rights and freedoms of all. This unity of purpose will pave the way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and make Kenya’s Vision 2030 a reality.
Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya
Follow @IPSNewsUNBureauFollow IPS New UN Bureau on Instagram
(2020) – All rights reserved