Speech

Today, Jamaica joins the international community in commemorating Human Rights Day 2019, which is being celebrated under the theme, “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, regardless of race, colour, creed, sex, or national origin. The principles enshrined in that Declaration are as relevant today as when they were adopted over seventy years ago.

We all have a duty and an obligation to promote and defend human rights in the workplace, at school, on the streets and in public places. Engaging our youth and focusing on the role they can play, is important to ensuring true inclusion in promoting human rights. We have no doubt that the dynamism and passion of young people will deliver greater impact on human rights. Indeed, we are witnessing how young people all over the world are standing up for their rights against racism and discrimination as well as for urgent climate action.

Jamaica is playing its part in institutionalizing policies, programmes and strategies to ensure that all our citizens, including our children and youth are protected. On 19th November 2019, as part of its observance of the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Jamaica held a Special Parliamentary Session on Violence against Children to address this challenging issue. It provided an opportunity, for the first time in the nation’s history, for children to address Parliament and to call for action to be taken to protect them from all forms of violence and abuse. On that date, Jamaica also launched the National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV), which will be implemented with the support of our international partners, to meet this call by our children.

These positive steps are reflective of the commitment of the Government of Jamaica to safeguard and protect all our citizens, including the most vulnerable. As we commemorate Human Rights Day 2019, I urge all fellow

Jamaicans to heed the call to stand up for the human rights of all persons, mindful that when anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined.

We recall Eleanor Roosevelt’s profound words: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home —- so close

and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world…. Unless

these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Let us each therefore, play our part in giving effect to the Universal Declaration here at home and everywhere. And more so, let us join and work with our young people so that we may all: “Get up, stand up, stand up for our rights!”

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