75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: President Berset opens conference in Geneva

Press releases, 12.12.2023

Geneva, 12.12.2023 - In the aftermath of the Second World War and with the aim of preventing its atrocities for all time, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in Paris on 10 December 1948 in accordance with a resolution of the UN General Assembly. President Alain Berset paid tribute to the 75th anniversary of this historic step on Tuesday, 12 December 2023, at a high-level conference in Geneva.

President of the Confederation at the UN
Alain Berset addresses the high-level conference marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. © FDHA

"The Human Rights Charter was more than a reaction (to the Second World War) - it marked a turning point, a departure towards a better, more humane and safer world," explained President Berset. The situation now is mixed. While some progress has been made, particularly in the fight against impunity regarding serious human rights violations, there have also been setbacks recently.

Mr Berset went on to say that, "Policies of hatred, stigmatisation and discrimination can be observed in many parts of the world. These in turn put pressure on democracies. For it is a fact: the culture of debate, the search for dialogue and compromise, is under threat. Never before has it been so important to reflect on the issues of our time. And if there are any values worth fighting for, it's human rights, democracy and the rule of law."

The high-level conference in Geneva marked the culmination of a series of events commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago. The document established the principle of the universality of human rights and forms the foundations of the binding human rights treaties that have been concluded since then. The aim of the event was to revitalise the global consensus, anticipate new challenges and strengthen the human rights system.

Switzerland's most important human rights partner

The conference was co-hosted by Switzerland and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR is Switzerland's most important multilateral partner on human rights issues. President Berset highlighted Switzerland's support for the work of the OHCHR and announced that Switzerland's contribution would be increased to CHF 5.5 million over the next two years. He also used took advantage of his visit to Geneva to hold bilateral talks with heads of state and government.

Prior to the high-level segment with heads of state and government, the member states formulated pledges, declaring the areas in which they are striving to undertake meaningful actions to improve human rights. For its part, Switzerland wants to strengthen the role of human rights in conflict prevention and advocate for the priorities of its human rights diplomacy, namely the universal abolition of the death penalty and the protection of freedom of expression.

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