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Human Rights Day message from the APF Chairperson

Graphic: People holding candlelights at a rally

To our members and supporters, we wish you a happy Human Rights Day.

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On this day, 74 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This important document lays out the basic rights and fundamental freedoms to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or what part of the world they come from.

With the theme of this year’s celebration being “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”, we reflect upon the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific as they have worked to protect the dignity, rights and freedoms of individuals and communities across the region. 

In the past year, APF members have maintained a strong and consistent presence at the national level on a broad range of issues, advocating for the most vulnerable in society and being the voice for human rights. As a network of 26 NHRIs across the Asia Pacific, our members have also worked in partnership and cooperation with each other to protect human rights at the regional level.

This has included taken action to strengthen the rights of women and girls, as well as LGBTI and gender diverse people, advocating for equality for all. Our member NHRIs have also worked to promote the right to a healthy environment, including collaborating with regional mechanisms to identify strategies to promote a human rights-based approach to climate change and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

It is important on this day to reflect on the brave and tireless work of human rights defenders (HRDs) across the region. Through their actions, HRDs help uncover human rights violations, bringing them to public attention and working to empower individuals and communities to understand and claim their fundamental rights. 

Due to their work, HRDs can face grave challenges in the countries in which they work. NHRIs have continued to promote the rights of HRDs, and as HRDs themselves, have also come under threat for the work they do to promote and protect human rights.

As we head towards an important milestone next year – the 75th anniversary of the UDHR - we thank you and stand together with you in reaffirming the universality and indivisibility of human rights, as we work towards as Asia Pacific where human rights are universally enjoyed and respected.  

Doo-Hwan Song, APF Chairperson

Date: 10 December 2022

Image credits

  1. People holding candlelights at a rally - Kangsar on Shutterstock