UN envoy encourages all Iraqis to continue promoting human rights

Special Representative Martin Kobler.
UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade
Special Representative Martin Kobler.

UN envoy encourages all Iraqis to continue promoting human rights

The United Nations envoy for Iraq has encouraged the Government, the Council of Representatives and citizens to continue to promote and protect human rights, stressing that it is their responsibility to make the respect of human rights a reality in their country.

“The Government must do all it can to ensure that its human rights obligations are met – and in particular that journalists and human rights defenders are protected,” said Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), at an event in Baghdad yesterday to mark Human Rights Day, which is observed globally on 10 December every year.

“Eleven civil society activists were killed in 2010 and this shows that there are still challenges that hinder the enjoyment of freedom of expression and that must change,” said Mr. Kobler.

He emphasized the importance of social and economic rights, including right to education employment and access to social services. “These rights, together with political [and] civil rights, are of crucial importance for the youth of the country, who represent more than half the population and they represent its future,” he added.

Mr. Kobler also presented awards to a number of Iraqi human rights defenders, honouring them for their work in promoting rights.

“It is by their example, their courage and their convictions that we learn how we, too, can become human rights defenders,” he said.

On Sunday, Mr. Kobler participated in function organised by Iraq’s Human Rights at Baghdad University where he addressed the gathering and had an interactive discussion with the students.

Mr. Kobler’s outgoing deputy, Jerzy Skuratowicz, today took part in marking Human Rights Day at the Iraqi Council of Representatives, where he delivered the keynote address on behalf of UNAMI.