Announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2020
Human Rights Day is celebrated today to honour the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. The vision of the Declaration’s instigators was to create a world in which human rights will be enjoyed by all without discrimination. Seventy two years on, and despite the indisputable progress in the respect for human rights and the implementation of the Declaration, safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all, remains a substantial challenge.
The year 2020 has been a particularly tough one for humanity. The pandemic, which continues to cause enormous pain and unprecedented pressures, has had and continues to have a negative impact on the respect for human rights. Statistics reveal an increase in domestic violence worldwide, while the impact of prejudice and stigma experienced by vulnerable groups has intensified.
The experience of the pandemic has also highlighted the need to further strengthen cooperation between members of the international community. Republic of Cyprus has been consistently working, at the regional, European and international level, actively supporting initiatives tackling the pandemic, focusing among other things on the respect of human dignity. In this context, Cyprus has made voluntary contributions to various funds internationally whilst also providing support for various projects undertaken by international organizations, demonstrating in practice its firm commitment to multilateralism, as well as to the universality of human rights and democratic freedoms.
At the European Union level, a new Human Rights Action Plan for the period 2020-2024 has been prepared and approved. The Action Plan prioritizes the protection of human rights, reaffirming Europe’s staunch commitment to the universality of human rights and freedoms.
In seeking a more active role in achieving greater respect for human rights at the national and the international level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also decided to launch a number of initiatives in order to promote and highlight best practices in this field. More specifically, it has been decided, among other things, to establish an annual Human Rights Award, which will honour a person or Non-Governmental Organization for outstanding contribution to the defense of human rights in Cyprus. The award will be known as the "Stella Soulioti" Award, as a tribute to the unique and multi-dimensional legacy of this remarkable figure in modern Cypriot history, who inspired successive generations of Cypriots. The Award will include a 10,000 Euro prize and will be announced at a special ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of the Human Rights Day celebrations.
At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with other stakeholders including other state authorities, foreign diplomatic missions and representatives of civil society, will launch in 2021 a series of events, including a student essay competition, a film festival and a photography exhibition, all highlighting the importance of human rights. The aim of these initiatives is to showcase how human rights is and must be an indispensable part in the lives of all human beings.
It is a regrettable fact that in the year 2020, the human rights of all Cypriots continue to be brutally violated, on a daily basis, as a result of the continued Turkish occupation since 1974. Ending the illegal Turkish occupation and the ongoing violations of all Cypriots’ human rights by Turkey remains the top priority of the Republic of Cyprus.
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