UN charges Nigerians on human rights observance
By Ada Anioji
As part of activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has organised a Human Rights commitment ceremony which entailed signing of the Human Rights Pledge board by dignitaries and others. Speaking on the occasion, the National Information Officer of the UNIC Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, called on Nigerians to respect each other’s rights regardless of their differences in language, faith, tribe, geographical location or political affiliation.
According to Dr Soremekun, the UDHR recognises all human beings as equal and enjoins them to act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood. “If everyone respects the other’s rights, the world would be a better place to live.” He noted.
The UDHR, he explained, is the most translated documents in the world having been translated into over 500 languages. “In Nigeria, the UDHR has been translated into Edo, Efik, Ibibio, Hausa, Igbo, Kanuri Yerwa, Tiv, Yoruba and Pidgin English. We have also finalised the translation into Ijaw and Idoma languages.” He emphasised, “To demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness, UNIC Lagos has also produced the world’s first complete braille version of the UDHR, which we launched in Abuja in December 2018.”
Dr Soremekun added that the activities marking the 70th anniversary of the UDHR was aimed at promoting the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what the UDHR means in our daily lives; Engaging broad audiences across the country and mobilise people for human rights; as well as reflecting on progress and challenges, and ways that each of us can stand up for human rights.
He therefore led the audience to make the Human Rights Pledge: “I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even I disagree with you. When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up; I will raise my voice; I will take action; I will use my right to stand up for your rights.”
In his remarks, the Zonal Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, South West, Mr Lucas Koyejo, urged the audience who were mainly students, to pay more attention to the provisions of the UDHR, and make conscious efforts to understand and uphold the 30 Articles in the document.
Mrs Tola Akinsanya, representing the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, observed that Human Rights have evolved and classified into first, second and third generation rights, some of which have necessitated sheer political will to ensure full implementation. According to her, Lagos State remains committed to ensuring that human rights are upheld and access to justice moves from a slogan to reality. She added that the Human Rights pledge would be a catalyst for the enforcement of human rights in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
The President of Women Arise, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her remarks, charged the audience to “stand up for your rights even if you are standing alone.” “Raise your voice, take action. Your right is your right.” She reminded those who trampled on others’ rights to always remember that one day they would have their day in courts.
The Head of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Kwasi Amankwaah emphasised that Human Rights is everybody’s business and “it begins with you”, he added.
The dignitaries and representatives of schools present, took turn to sign the ‘Human Rights Pledge Board’.