Human rights | 10.12.2019

December 10 - Human Rights Day - Message from Jacqueline R. Scott, Director General, IROL

“A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a darker past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint” [1].

As we do every December 10, we at UIA are today commemorating Human Rights Day, bringing attention to the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirming the universality, inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of human rights.

Each December 10 is a global call to raise our voices and take action, in ways large and small, to the fullest extent possible to promote and defend freedom, equality and justice for all human beings.

This year, a year marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations is particularly focusing its human rights efforts on our youth, having implemented a new initiative: Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.

On the front lines of demonstrations calling for more open and participative institutions, urging leaders to fight climate change, or addressing inequalities, exclusion and discrimination, youth across the world have been demonstrating leadership and courage in their advocacy for human rights, speaking up for the rights of all, especially the right to participate in decisions that do or will in the future affect them. These young people are leading the charge for social change, even in the face of governments who violently silence their free speech and punish dissenters. These courageous, young people are a source of inspiration, and their efforts to promote and defend human rights must be encouraged and protected.

So, too, should we join together to support each and every individual across the globe who works to bring to life the 30 articles of the UDHR. And it is with personal pride that I give special recognition to lawyers all over the world who, in accordance with Article 14 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, work tirelessly to protect the rights of their clients and to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms  - often in the face of threats or persecution or even physical violence. Their bravery, and the bravery of all those who struggle to defend human rights, is an inspiration for us all.

In recognition of the important role lawyers play in protecting and promoting human rights and the rule of law, I reiterate today UIA’s call to governments to commit, honestly, transparently and without reservation to promote and support these Basic Principles. To that end, UIA strongly urges governments to protect our legal colleagues, allowing them to carry out their professional duties and obligations to protect the rights of all citizens freely, independently, and without threat of prosecution, persecution or violence

Join with us today to celebrate the commitment to protecting and promoting human rights and the rule of law, a commitment that was strongly affirmed 71 years ago upon the drafting of the UDHR. And stand with us as we work together to ensure a future where the human rights of everyone are assured.


Jacqueline R. Scott
Director General, IROL 


[1] Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Human Rights Day, December 9