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KABUL, 10 Dec2018

Marking International Human Rights Day, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) underscores the enduring importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its 70th anniversary and renews its call to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in Afghanistan.

The United Nations welcomes Afghanistan’s human rights achievements, including the work of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the creation of new laws empowering the media through access to information, the development of a new Penal Code reflecting the country’s commitment to promote fundamental freedoms, and the presence of women in civil service positions and in the private sector.

“While Afghanistan has achieved much in human rights, the challenges remain daunting, especially as a result of the ongoing armed conflict and fragile security environment that continue to cause persistent high numbers of civilian casualties,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

The United Nations remains steadfast in working closely with all Afghan institutions in overcoming the remaining challenges, including a justice system that is able to fully implement the progress the country has made in legislative reform and in constitutional provisions guaranteeing women’s rights and the elimination of violence against women.

“Combating impunity and redress for victims of human rights abuses must be prioritized, as accountability for human rights abuses establishes necessary foundations for a just society,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA. “Protecting human rights relies on implementing laws so the most vulnerable are genuinely shielded from abuse.”

The United Nations, noting that peace, reconciliation, truth-seeking, accountability and justice are key to Afghanistan’s future, encourages the fulfilment of Afghanistan’s broad-ranging commitments and pledges to continue to promote human rights and reinforce its national protection system, and will continue to seek assurances that all parties to the conflict respect and work with human rights defenders.

“Human rights is at the heart of the work of the United Nations and is core to its activities in Afghanistan where we are privileged to work in support of the Afghan people,” said Yamamoto. “The values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are especially important to protect in the context of any future peace negotiations; any setbacks in human rights are simply unacceptable and can compromise the sustainability of peace processes.”

On 10 December each year, at the conclusion of 16 days of activities aimed at raising awareness about ending violence against women, the United Nations observes Human Rights Day by recognizing achievements made since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was conceived as a framework to foster peace, promote understanding of the inherent dignity and equal worth of all members of the human family and protect individuals from state tyranny and abuse.

As a result of the Declaration, one of the most significant documents of the twentieth century, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and untold human suffering prevented. It has permeated every corner of international law. The national constitutions of more than 90 countries, including Afghanistan, have enshrined its principles. While the Declaration’s promise is yet to be fulfilled everywhere, the fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.

To highlight what the Declaration means for people in their everyday lives, the United Nations has run a year-long campaign leading up to today, the occasion of the Declaration’s 70th anniversary. To sign the global pledge and take action, visit http://www.standup4humanrights.org/.