- Jamaica is pleased to join the international community in commemorating Human Rights Day under the theme “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always”.
- Human Rights Day 2015 provides a welcome opportunity for Jamaica and the rest of the international community to reflect on the human rights landscape.
- The UDHR laid the foundation for more than 60 human rights treaties/instruments which are collectively recognised as the global benchmark for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Senator the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson QC
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
10th December 2015
Jamaica is pleased to join the international community in commemorating Human Rights Day under the theme “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always”. Human Rights Day 2015 provides a welcome opportunity for Jamaica and the rest of the international community to reflect on the human rights landscape which has evolved over the last six (6) decades since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all people and all nations”.
The UDHR laid the foundation for more than 60 human rights treaties/instruments which are collectively recognised as the global benchmark for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The specific focus this year is on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which, together with the UDHR, constitute the International Bill of Human Rights. The two Covenants have inspired fundamental change in national human rights policies and by extension, the lives of people across the globe.
This is amply demonstrated in our national context. Many of the rights and freedoms that Jamaicans enjoy today in relation to health, education, housing, and the workplace, are based in large part on the tenets of the ICESCR. The rights of Jamaicans to liberty and security of person, freedom of expression, association, thought and religion, and equal protection under the law, find resonance in the ICCPR. Jamaica’s Charter on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, provides for comprehensive protection of certain economic and social rights as well as established civil and political rights. While the Charter reinforces some provisions of the Constitution such as the right to equality before the law, it also introduces new rights, including the rights of the child, the right to a passport, the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment, the right to legal aid and the right to vote. All the rights elaborated are enjoyed by all persons, without distinction of any kind.
As a longstanding advocate for human rights at the national and international levels, Jamaica will continue to engage the international community in our efforts to fulfill our international obligations. Jamaica was pleased to have participated in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the Human Rights Council in May of this year. Jamaica has also submitted its Fourth Periodic Report to the Human Rights Committee, in accordance with Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and looks forward to the consideration of its report in October 2016.
As we commemorate Human Rights Day 2015, we are conscious of the fact that there are many across the globe whose rights and freedoms continue to be violated. I therefore urge Jamaicans to continue to hold dear the rights which they enjoy. I encourage other members of the international community to strengthen their resolve to ensure that respect for human rights becomes a way of life in every corner of the globe. After all, we have a shared responsibility to protect the dignity and rights of fellow citizens of the world.