Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: Fighting for human rights crucial for preventing further infringements

It is crucial to keep fighting for the enforcement of human rights so as to ensure that the various forms of rights infringements are not repeated, President Katalin Novak said at an international roundtable discussion in Budapest on Tuesday.

Every country has a duty to think about the situation within their borders and ask themselves whether all of their citizens truly enjoy the most basic human rights, Novak told the event organised by the National University of Public Service and the United Nations Association of Hungary to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The discussion also included Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Director-General of the UN Office in Vienna, Nobel Peace Prize laureate human rights activist Nadia Murad and Katalin Bogyay, president of the United Nations Association of Hungary.

Novak said it was important for women to raise awareness and prevent and resolve conflicts through their roles in public life and politics as well as in business and academic life.

Murad said people who witnessed violence and the infringement of human rights had to decide what kind of world they wanted to live in and help oppressed minorities preserve their language, culture and human dignity. Murad, who escaped Islamic State captivity after being abducted from Iraq’s Kurdistan region in 2014, said that while studying at the University of Washington she regularly returns to Kurdistan to help the Yazidis enforce their civil rights.

Waly said that though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had advanced human rights since its approval in Paris in 1948, fundamental rights still faced restrictions in several parts of the world.

She said some 2 billion people lived in or in the proximity of war zones where international rights infringements regularly occur, while those in need did not have access to aid. Currently 110 million people live as refugees far from their homes and are targets of human trafficking and organised crime, she said. Sixty percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, most of whom also become victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, she added. Waly said the protection and enforcement of human rights was not just the responsibility of states, but also of individuals, adding that the UN continued to assist those who defended human rights.

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