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UN Chief:Call to Action on Human Rights02/24 06:17

   The head of the United Nations issued a "call to action" on Monday to 
countries, businesses and all people to help renew and revive human rights 
across the globe, laying out a seven-point plan amid concerns about climate 
change, conflict and repression.

   GENEVA (AP) -- The head of the United Nations issued a "call to action" on 
Monday to countries, businesses and all people to help renew and revive human 
rights across the globe, laying out a seven-point plan amid concerns about 
climate change, conflict and repression.

   U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the appeal at the start of the 
latest Human Rights Council session in Geneva, known as the council's 
"high-level segment" because it hosts a parade of dignitaries --- including 
Libya's prime minister and foreign ministers from countries like Germany, Saudi 
Arabia and South Korea at the start of the four-week session.

   "I have come to the Human Rights Council --- the fulcrum for international 
dialogue and cooperation to advance all human rights --- to launch a Call to 
Action," Guterres said, speaking in broad terms and avoiding any reference to 
individual countries' rights records. 

   The U.N. chief said he wanted to speak out now because "human rights are 
under assault." 

   His seven-point plan involves linking human rights to issues like 
sustainable development, crisis prevention, gender equality, the development of 
the digital age, and freedom of expression and civil society, among other 
things.

   "Success must be measured by the yardstick of meaningful change in people's 
lives," he said. "As a United Nations family, a culture of human rights must 
permeate all we do."

   In a veiled allusion to China's Communist government, which has made 
economic and social development a key pillar of its approach to human rights, 
Guterres said: "It would be a mistake to diminish economic, social and cultural 
rights.

   "But it would be equally misguided to think that those rights are sufficient 
to answer people's yearning for freedom," he sid. 

   Guterres also spoke out against rising racism, white supremacy and 
extremism, and lamented violence against women and girls "as the world's most 
pervasive human rights abuse."

   In an allusion to what are popularly known as "killer robots," he reiterated 
his stance that machines should never be given "lethal capacity outside human 
judgment or control."

   "People across the world want to know we are on their side," Guterres said. 
"Whether robbed of their dignity by war, repression or poverty, or simply 
dreaming of a better future, they rely on their irreducible rights -- and they 
look to us to help uphold them."

   "Human rights --- civil, cultural, economic, political and social --- are 
both the goal and the path," he said.

   Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, welcomed Guterres' 
message but urged him to be more direct in his statements.

   "By providing a strong voice advocating for victims and condemning abusers, 
the Secretary-General can stand tall against governments committing serious 
rights violations -- whether it's the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in 
China, atrocities committed against Myanmar's Rohingyas, indiscriminate 
Russian-Syrian bombing of civilians in Idlib, or the forced separation of 
children from their parents at the U.S. border," Roth said. "But this 
initiative will succeed only if the Secretary-General provides robust and 
regular public commentary, and does not shy away from naming abusers."


(KR)

 
 
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