Every year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate Human Rights Day on 10 December – a landmark day when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The day offers the opportunity to amplify the common agenda of the humanity and reaffirm the purposes and principles of the UN Charter that have guided the organisation since its creation.
In Uganda, the commemoration was themed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its relevance to the common person, with a particular focus on Sexual Gender-based Violence (SGBV) and access to justice. The commemoration brought together national and international partners, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), UNFPA, UN Women, and the Resident Coordinator’s Office. The national commemoration took place in Nakawuka, Wakiso District.
In her remarks to hundreds of citizens and residents of Nakawuka, Ms. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women Representative on behalf of Ms. Susan Ngongi Namondo UN Resident Coordinator expressed honour speaking at the climax of the 16 days of activism against sexual and gender-based violence and in the difficult circumstances of the Ebola and post COVID-19 pandemic. She further congratulated the Government of Uganda having undergone the Universal Periodic Review to assess the progress made on the 2016 recommendations and government commitments to international protocols and standards, as well as a review in November under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). “The realization of human rights is progressive. In Uganda, we continue to see, and we applaud the Government of Uganda for fulfilling its international treaty reporting obligations in respect of the International Convention Against Torture and the Universal Periodic Review.” She said.
She underscored the UN Secretary General, António Guterres’s message that, “Human rights are the foundation for human dignity, and the cornerstone of peaceful, inclusive, fair, equal, and prosperous societies. They are a unifying force and a rallying cry. They reflect the most fundamental thing we share – our common humanity.”
“Even as the 30 articles of the Declaration have sparked transformation in all areas of our lives, the embers of racism, misogyny, inequality, and hatred continue to threaten our world. “The language and spirit of the Declaration have the potential to overcome division and polarization. It can make peace with nature, our planet, and pave the way to sustainable development for future generations.” Ms. Susan Ngongi Namondo, UN Resident Coordinator quoted the High Commissioner Volter Türk in her speech.
The commemoration was preceded by a week-long mobile legal aid clinic by OHCHR key partner – the Wakiso District Human Rights Committee – to rural and peri-urban areas in and around Kampala Metropolitan district of Wakiso. Funded by OHCHR, the legal aid services were provided by a team of legal experts – free of charge – on subjects like land rights, freedom of expression and access to justice. It is estimated that the mobile clinic legal aid services reached more than 5,000 rural people within five days through community barazas – gatherings.
It was attended, among others; by Hon. Miriam Wangadya, Chairperson Uganda human Rights Commission (UHRC), Yves Mercier Counsellor & Head of Cooperation French Embassy, Ms Pauline Chiwangu UN Women Country Rep, Ms. Mbuton, OHCHR Human Rights Officer, Crispin Kaheru, UHRC Commissioner, Mr. Sam Nsubuga ACTV Chief Executive Officer, and Ms. Franziska Bertz Components Head, Human Rights & Conducive Environment of the Governance and Civil Society Program – Germany Development Cooperation - GiZ
On behalf of the UN in Uganda, I reiterate our commitment to work with all partners through our UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021-2025 to support peace, development and the realization of aspirations of the Constitution of Uganda, the National Vision 2040 and the SDGs.
“As the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) is preparing for its upcoming Review in 2023 by the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), the UN in Uganda stands ready to continue providing support, hoping that the UHRC will maintain its “A” Status as National Human Rights Institution at the end of the review. I take this opportunity to encourage the Government to continue providing the much-needed support to this Commission.” Ms. Namondo said.