A Message on Human Rights Day 2021
Chargé d’Affaires Benjamin Moeling’s Message on Human Rights Day 2021
December 10th is Human Rights Day, commemorating the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. This is a day when all people and their governments should reflect on the state of human rights around the world and in their own countries as well. It is a moment to remember the struggles of the human rights defenders who display such great courage in giving voices to those who cannot speak for themselves.
For the United States, this is a particularly important day as it reminds us of our special responsibility as a newly elected member of the Human Rights Council to live up to our nation’s ideals by standing up for those whose rights are in jeopardy – both at home and abroad – and advocating for every individual’s human rights around the world.
The United States is not perfect, no country is. One of our most enduring shortcomings dates back to our nation’s founding, in the institution of chattel slavery and in the policies which sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures.
As President Biden said, “Systemic racism is not a uniquely American phenomenon, but deep racial inequities are a persistent feature of our national story, and that story must be told. The administration is leading this effort, both at home and as an important element of our nation’s reengagement with the world.”
As we continue to work toward racial justice and strive for a more perfect Union, we also see that systemic racism is a global scourge. Other nations around the world are confronting their own legacies of chattel slavery, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and colonialism.
We want to work together to identify problems and address them, to protect those whose human rights have been threatened or violated, and to improve all of the national and multilateral systems that have to work well for us to achieve the vision enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To again use President Biden’s words, “We are not here to lecture our global partners, but to listen and walk with you on a journey towards those values that we all aspire to.”
So on this day as we celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I want to give you my commitment that the United States will do our best to lead by example and strive to address our challenges through our democratic political system, through free and open debate, and under the supervision of an independent judicial system and a vibrant free press.
We will also honor our responsibility as a member of the Human Rights Council to advocate for human rights around the world and to speak up for the courageous defenders of human rights and the victims of human rights abuses whose governments continue to dismiss or ignore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On Human Rights Day, and every day, we can do no less.