10 December 2019 marks the 71st anniversary of the day the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year, too, Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği -İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) continue defending peace, justice, equality, freedom and the protection of human dignity along with democracy that will guarantee all as was put forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The drafting of the UDHR commenced on 29 April 1946 with the establishment of the “Commission on Human Rights” within the United Nations. The UDHR, with a preamble and 30 articles, was drafted by the commission and adopted by the UN General Assembly assembled in Paris on 10 December 1948. The UDHR went into effect in Turkey after having been published in the Official Gazette of 27 May 1949.
The UDHR has been translated into more than 500 languages. It also remains the most translated human rights document in the world. The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates back to 4 December 1950, after the General Assembly passed resolution 423 (V) inviting all States and interested organizations to adopt 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
Although the UN was founded with a goal to establish an international system based on peace, human rights and democracy ideals, we unfortunately lag far behind in reaching these ideals. Such an international system based on the rights and freedoms enshrined in the UDHR has yet to be established. The fundamental idea that human beings have inherent and inviolable rights regardless of their race, color, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion and creed, belief, ethnic identity; political, personal and philosophical convictions has still not been sufficiently promoted worldwide. Today, the United Nations, in contradiction to its very grounds for existence, cannot be effective enough in preventing/putting an end to wars and civil wars that account for the major causes of rights violations, in intervening into refugee crises, in protecting natural and cultural heritage worldwide, in fighting poverty and injustice, and eliminating all kinds of discrimination particularly against women.
At this point the military and economic partnerships set up by powerful countries have become setbacks against individuals’ exercise of rights and freedoms. Specifically, the fact that the states have been gradually leaving behind their pledges for democracy and rule of law has led to the emaciation of human right both as a reference system and a control mechanism. In spite of all these setbacks peoples all over the world from Chile to Lebanon, from Iran to Hong Kong have been raising their voices demanding freedom, justice, equality and human rights. The response of the states and governments to these demands though have been systematization and generalization of all kinds of violence and imposing them as the sole truth of life on societies. Promoting and protecting human rights along with revitalizing its founding role against this gross crisis that the world has been going through are our primary duties.
This state of crisis is faced in Turkey with all its might and intensity. The country has been governed by a state of emergency regime directly since 2016 and indirectly since 19 July 2018 by this very same regime claimed to have been lifted but rendered permanent and ordinary through the introduction of numerous legal amendments. This state of affairs/process has led to the abandonment of the principle of constitutionalism which limited the power of the government, thus, to the dominance of arbitrariness and uncertainty over the public space by making both law and institutions “apparatuses” of the oppressive regime. As has been stated at the 16th Human Rights Movement in Turkey Conference, co-organized by İHD and HRFT, “The power of the new regime to create uncertainty as a method of governance entails a legal, political, economic, social and cultural downfall in each and every field from everyday life to high politics because a regime of uncertainty not only does constitute a state of legal uncertainty but also stands for a climate of fear under which individuals’ sense of self-determination is exposed to perpetual threats. Such a climate, on the one hand, has induced the unraveling of common bonds among the members of the society as it set off a ‘distrustful’ relationship among them; it, on the other hand, has transformed the relationship of individuals with the rulers into something that could be called ‘anticipatory obedience;’ an act of conforming, a practice of acting in accordance with anticipating what the commander would command. Moreover, impunity, which refers to the narrowing down of the field of the struggle against rights violations brought along with the erosion of institutions within this regime of uncertainty, has been reproduced and virtually become a rule.”
Following this short assessment, a review of violations in various right categories in Turkey in 2019 is hereby presented.
Please click to read the full report in English (10,350): 20191210_HumanRightsDay_İHD&HRFT