An unhappy anniversary for human rights?

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"Despite all our efforts over the past 60 years, this anniversary will pass many people by. Tens of millions of people around the world are still unaware that they have rights that they can demand, and that their governments are accountable to them, and to a wide-ranging body of rights-based national and international law."

So says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, discussing today's 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite continued strong global public support for the idea of universal standards of human rights, it's hard to argue with her analysis as this day passes in Somalia, Pakistan, Burma, Iran, Russia, Vietnam, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the West Bank/Gaza, the Democratic Republic of Congo . . . the list of nations with significant to severe violations of basic human rights becomes quite lengthy indeed. And let's frankly acknowledge that the last few years have not been free of U.S. excesses as well in its prosecution of the war on terror (The venerable Human Rights Watch offers this advisory for a new U.S. human rights agenda ).

This week likewise marks the December 9 60th anniversary of the UN's Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a similarly lamentable anniversary in light of the ongoing slaughter and relatively abysmal global response to same in the Congo and Darfur.

For more:
A global rundown

UN, regional advocates call on Governments to protect human rights defenders

Corruption impedes development and human rights, Ban says on International Day

Ban leads chorus of UN voices calling for action to protect human rights of vulnerable

Appalling acts still persist 60 years on from pledge to prevent genocide, Ban warns

Huge challenges remain in Darfur and Chad, UN aid chief tells Security Council