This International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2023, marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Stand with us for “Freedom, Equality, and Justice for all”!
As part of the Indian diaspora, we celebrate that India played an integral part in shaping our human rights framework and this foundational document: leading female diplomat Hansa Mehta played a crucial role in establishing a framework of rights for all human beings, thereby infusing a feminist perspective into the language of international law.
As the UDHR turns 75, human rights have deteriorated significantly in states that contributed to its initial drafting. One such state is India – with concerns spanning from restrictions of freedom of expression, and curtailment of religious freedoms, to violations of indigenous rights.
• The Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index currently ranks India 161 out of 180 worldwide. Blanket internet shutdowns, crackdowns on journalists, and censorship of the press violate the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association enshrined in Articles 19 and 20 of the UDHR.
• The Indian state commits serious human rights violations against Adivasis, with recent evidence of aerial bombing of civilians thereby disregarding the right to life of indigenous peoples under Article 3.
• India has also seen crimes against humanity and widespread targeted violence disproportionately affecting religious minorities, particularly Muslims – in violation of UDHR articles 3, 5, and 18.
• The Indian State has also led 1.9 million people into a de facto statelessness within Indian territory through the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, thus infringing upon the right to a nationality under Article 15.
As the UDHR turns 75, and global efforts to promote a culture of human rights intensify, the EU and India are preparing for their annual Human Rights Dialogue. We call on them to uphold human rights, in all their engagements, and work together to create a world where the principles of the UDHR are not just celebrated but actively safeguarded.