DEMOCRACY REQUIRES HUMAN RIGHTS
PARAMARIBO – As we mark today, the United Nation’s International Human Rights Day, we are again reminded of the strong tie between human rights and democracy. One cannot flourish without the other. This year’s theme – “Equality: Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights” – also reminds us that we must stand up and
protect the rights of all.
This year’s Human Rights Day coincides with President Biden’s Summit for Democracy. The two-day virtual gathering of world leaders, including Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, highlights the American commitment to placing the protection and advancement of democracy and human rights at the center of our foreign policy. To tackle the world’s most pressing challenges, democracies must thrive, come together, learn together, and act together. During the Summit, which ends today, representatives of governments, civil society, and the private sector have
been discussing the challenges facing democracy around the world, working to ensure that democracy continues to improve all people’s lives in tangible ways.
The work of journalists, activists, advocates, and other members of civil society are essential to transparent, equitable, and responsive governance and to the development of democracy and protection of human rights. That is why we are also excited that Michelle Belfor, a Surinamese civil society leader, will be joining the Summit’s Virtual Youth Town Hall today, hosted by the United States’ Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Michelle’s intersectional efforts cross a variety of boundaries as she works to defend the human rights of all. In doing so, she
is a shining example of the theme of this year’s UN Human Rights Day commemoration.
We are not yet at a point in our world or our democracies where human rights are universally respected and protected. Days like today are meant to make us stop and re-assess where we are and then move forward. In the end, nations can legislate and promote respect for human rights but each human being is individually responsible for giving that respect to one another regardless of whether a law or government says that they must. Each of us should ask ourselves today, am I demonstrating respect for the rights of others and for their equal treatment? Maybe the answer is yes, but probably it is something less than yes. Today is a good day to begin moving the answer closer to
an unqualified yes.