On December 10, 2015, the world celebrates the 65th International Human Rights Day, commemorating the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, signed by the United States, Kazakhstan, and nearly every other member of the United Nations, states that the human rights specified in the document are universal to all people and are not limited by any particular set of values or traditions.
We are fortunate to live at a time when respect for human rights has a greater reach than at any time in history. In large part, this is due not simply to what governments have done, but to what people around the world have done to advocate for and protect human rights. We recognize Kazakhstan’s efforts in this area, such as the creation of the Consultative Advisory Board, which brings government and civil society together in constructive dialogue. We also honor the work and courage of those citizens in our countries who hold our governments to account to respect the human rights of all our citizens under our domestic legislation and our international obligations.
Past progress on respecting human rights however, is no guarantee of future gains. Today, we confront a world in which responding to terrorism and violent extremism can challenge the human rights of our citizens. As Secretary of State John Kerry said recently when he was in Astana: “terrorism is not a legitimate excuse to lock up political opponents, diminish the rights of civil society, or pin a false label on activists, who are engaged in peaceful dissent.”
In celebrating the 65th International Human Rights Day, we recognize there are areas where the United States must strive to improve. We nevertheless remain committed to upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration and call upon all countries, including our partners in Kazakhstan, to join with us to ensure all people are able to fully enjoy the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Respecting human rights goes hand in hand with promoting shared prosperity and security. As President Obama has said: “when citizens are empowered to pursue their full measure of happiness without restraint, they help ensure that economies grow, stability and prosperity spread, and nations flourish. Protecting human rights around the globe … bolsters the values that serve as a basis for peace in our world.”
Happy Human Rights Day – our common holiday as citizens of this world.
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For more information please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Astana, phone number: 8-777-537-50-03 or 8-777-223-08-51.