our Human Rights Call to Action is a comprehensive framework to advance
our most important work — from sustainable development to climate
action, from protecting fundamental freedoms to gender equality, the
preservation of civic space and ensuring that digital technology is a
force for good. Today, I come before you with a sense of urgency
to do even more to bring our Human Rights Call to Action to life. I
want to focus on two areas where the imperative for action is great —
and the scale of the challenge looms large. First, the blight of racism,
discrimination and xenophobia. And, second, the most pervasive human
rights violation of all: gender inequality. These evils are fed by
two of the deepest wells of injustice in our world: the legacy of
centuries of colonialism; and the persistence, across the millennia, of
patriarchy. The linkages between racism and gender inequality are
also unmistakable. Some of the worst impacts of both are in the overlaps
and intersections of discrimination suffered by women from racial and
ethnic minority groups.
The Blight of Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia: Stoking the
fires of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, violence against
some minority Christian communities, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny
is nothing new. It has just become more overt, easier to achieve,
and globalized. When we allow the denigration of any one of us,
we set the precedent for the demonization of all of us.
Excellencies, the rot of racism eats away at institutions, social
structures and everyday life — sometimes invisibly and
insidiously. I welcome the new awakening in the global fight for
racial justice, a surge of resistance against being reduced or ignored —
often led by women and young people. As they have highlighted, we
have a long way to go.
I commend the Human Rights Council decision to report on systemic
racism, accountability and redress, and responses to peaceful
anti-racism protests — and look forward to concrete action. We
must also step up the fight against resurgent neo-Nazism, white
supremacy and racially and ethnically motivated terrorism.
The danger of these hate-driven movements is growing by the day.
Let us call them what they are: White supremacy and neo-Nazi
movements are more than domestic terror threats. They are becoming
a transnational threat…Today, these extremist movements represent the
number one internal security threat in several countries.
We need global coordinated action to defeat this grave and growing
danger. Excellencies, we must also place a special focus on
safeguarding the rights of minority communities, many of whom are under
threat around the world. Minority communities are part of the
richness of our cultural and social fabric. Just as biodiversity
is fundamental to human well-being, the diversity of communities is
fundamental to humanity. Yet we see not only forms of
discrimination but also policies of assimilation that seek to wipe out
the cultural and religious identity of minority communities. When a
minority community’s culture, language or faith are under attack, all
of us are diminished. When authorities cast suspicion on entire
groups under the guise of security, all of us are threatened.
Gender Inequality: Excellencies, No human rights scourge is more
prevalent than gender inequality. The COVID-19 pandemic has
further exacerbated entrenched discrimination against women and
girls. The crisis has a woman’s face. Most essential
frontline workers are women — many from racially and ethnically
marginalized groups and at the bottom of the economic ladder. Most
of the increased burden of care in the home is taken on by women.
Violence against women and girls in all forms has skyrocketed, from
online abuse to domestic violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation and
child marriage. Women have suffered higher job losses and been
pushed into poverty in greater numbers. This is on top of already
fragile socio-economic conditions due to lower incomes, the wage gap,
and a lifetime of less access to opportunities, resources and
protections. None of this happened by accident. It is
the result of generations of exclusion. It comes down to a
question of power.
A male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture will yield
male-dominated results. At the same time, the COVID-19 response
has highlighted the power and effectiveness of women’s leadership.
The lives of women are perhaps one of the most accurate barometers of
the health of society as a whole. How a society treats half its
own population is a significant indicator of how it will treat
others. Our rights are inextricably bound….Realizing this right
will benefit all of us. The opportunity of man-made problems – and
I choose these words deliberately – is that they have human-led
solutions. But these solutions can only be found through shared
leadership and decision-making and the right to equal participation.
Excellencies, every corner of the globe is suffering from the sickness
of violations of human rights....With the pandemic shining a spotlight
on human rights, recovery gives us an opportunity to generate momentum
for transformation. Now is the time to reset. To
reshape. To rebuild. To recover better, guided by human
rights and human dignity for all.