Under the theme “A Defender for a Right”, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut) and Beirut Arab University (BAU), organized a special ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and celebrate Human Rights Day that falls annually on 10 December.
The ceremony, which was held at BAU premises, was attended by Bassam Al-Halabi, representative of caretaker Minister of Human Rights Ayman Choucair, MP and Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights Michel Moussa, MP and representative of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri Roula Tabesh, Regional Representative of OHCHR Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) Roueida El-Hage, Director of the UN Information Centre in Beirut Margo El-Helou, President of the Lebanese Constitutional Council Issam Sleiman, President of Beirut Arab University Amr Galal El-Adawi and BAU Secretary General Omar Houri. The ceremony was also attended by representatives of military and security leaders, BAU professors and students, representatives of media outlets and organizations specialized in human rights issues.
The Opening featured statements by Choucair, Moussa, El-Hage, and El-Adawi, as well as a
In his statement, Choucair said that decent life is the main issue that must be addressed when defending human rights, adding that the lack of sense of citizenship among people stops them from enjoying their basic human rights. “Citizenship is not a law,” he noted, “it is a struggle”. Choucair added that the Middle East is
For his part, Moussa pointed out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has become a ‘unified constitution’ in the world that regulate the preservation and respect of human rights, despite the blatant violations recorded throughout the past 70 years. “There is no doubt that hate speech is caused by conflicts, wars, poverty, and religious extremism, as well as the absence of political and cultural awareness that ignites hatred, intolerance and negative inherited traditions.” Moussa also stressed in his speech the need to control and confront hate speech, adding that this requires close cooperation between governments and civil society to enact effective
El-Hage began her statement by recalling that the UDHR is enshrined in the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution. “Its principles are therefore constitutionally mandatory, surpassing national legislation, and many countries have followed Lebanon’s example,” she noted. “Although the UDHR has helped many people gain more freedoms and rights, we are still witnessing systematic violations in the world. The struggle for human rights is not over yet,” she added. El-Hage also mentioned some world figures reflecting the progress achieved after the adoption of UDHR. These include
El-Adawi in his statement said that “intolerance, xenophobia
An Interactive Discussion
After the opening, El-Hage, together with Reda Abdel Aziz, a lawyer
The dialogue discussed in detail current legislative and policy measures adopted by countries of the region to combat hate speech through social media. Discussions also tackled civil society efforts and initiatives in fighting hate speech, with
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