United Nations, Feb 26 : People’s rights are under fire “in many parts of the globe,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Human Rights Council, before insisting that he was not “losing hope”, thanks to the progress made by powerful grassroots movements for social justice.
Addressing the Geneva-based forum on the opening day of its 40th session, Mr Guterres underlined the Council’s key role as the “epicentre” for dialogue and cooperation on all human rights issues- civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
Beyond its doors, other key voices were also demanding their rights and making their voices heard, he said, particularly “youth, indigenous people, migrants and refugees”.
Milestones have been reached in recent years, that are key to human rights, the UN chief maintained. “One billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in just a generation,” he said.
“More than two billion people have gained access to improved sanitation. And more than 2.5 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water resources. The mortality rate for children under five has declined by almost 60 per cent.”
Despite this, the UN chief insisted that ongoing gender inequality remains a major modern-day challenge, “Untold women and girls still face insecurity, violence and other violations of their rights every day,” he insisted, while glass ceilings “abound”.
“It will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment,” he continued. “I do not accept a world that tells my granddaughters that economic equality can wait for their granddaughter’s granddaughters. I know you agree. Our world cannot wait.”(UNI)