International Human Rights Day Statement of Ambassador Joan A. Polaschik

Today marks the anniversary of a watershed moment in the advancement of human rights around the globe: the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.  Each year, International Human Rights Day is an opportunity for all of us to reaffirm that every human being is born with fundamental, universal, and inalienable rights.

This year, the UN calls on Human Rights Day for everyone around the world to stand up for someone’s rights.  Here in Algiers and around the world, the United States takes this opportunity to recognize the efforts of human rights defenders who are working tirelessly to stand up for the rights of others and make a difference in their communities.  Algerian civil society activists, journalists, and scholars who continued their work throughout the Dark Decade set an inspiring example for all of us to follow.  Today, Algerian civil society activists – men and women of all ages – continue to work every day to make their country and the world a better place.

The U.S. Embassy in Algiers has marked Human Rights Day in several ways this year.  This week, we had the pleasure of hosting members of civil society for a public forum and discussion on human rights and how citizens can stand up for the rights of others.  We also hosted a webchat for young Algerians with some of the U.S. government’s top human rights officials in Washington.  This morning, I attended the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights’ celebration of Human Rights Day.

Today we celebrate the courage and selflessness of human rights defenders around the world.