University Talk: On the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Opening Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi

December 8, 2023
UNDP in Viet Nam

-    Doctor Pham Lan Dung- Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy
-    Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, Former Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations, Former President of VUFO
-    Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Former Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations, Former President of the Diplomatic Academy
-    Dear Students of the Diplomatic Academy

Good afternoon, everyone,

It is my honour to join Doctor Dung to welcome all of you to this inspiring first-hand dialogue on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On behalf of UNDP in Viet Nam, I would like to express our gratitude to the Faculty of International Communications at the Diplomatic Academy for their efforts to bring us all together to commemorate this important milestone. 

Before we embark on this Talk, let's take a moment to explore why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is significant.

The UDHR was adopted on the 10th of December 1948 by a United Nations General Assembly that included only 58 member states at that time. Remember, this was just a few years after the end of the second World War, when the world was still reeling with the after-effects of war and conflict.  With forty-eight votes in favour, and none opposed, the UDHR adoption marked a historic global commitment to the universal principles of human dignity, equality, and justice for all. Since then, the UN has grown to 193 Member states, and all Members States have ratified at least one of the nine binding treaties influenced by the Declaration.

Ms Ramla Khalidi, Resident Representative, UNDP in Viet Nam

UNDP in Viet Nam

In the decades since, significant gains have been made in human rights. People around the world live safer, longer, more dignified lives. However, progress is rarely linear. It is a process.

In 2023, we see clear and imminent threats to our collective commitments, ranging from the aftermath of conflicts, and humanitarian crises to what we refer to as the triple planetary crisis of climate change, air pollution, and biodiversity loss.

The universality of human rights is being challenged. We see civilians under attack with impunity. How do we hold on to gains made in the international arena? I believe  the Universal Declaration, with its emphasis on freedom, equality, and justice for all is still the best fit for purpose to meet the needs of our time.

In March 2023, the Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution on the “Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR”, with the aim to increase global knowledge and awareness of the Declaration and its enduring relevance for our times and the future. Viet Nam was one of the drafters of the resolution. Today’s event is designed to highlight the continued relevance of the UDHR and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action for you, DAV students and future diplomats of Viet Nam.  

I am looking forward to hear from our esteemed panelists who will lead us through a journey of reflection and discussion. From the historical context of the UDHR to the current global landscape, we will explore the role of member states in advocating for and upholding the principles of the UDHR. We will delve into Viet Nam's contributions to the UN mechanisms and your journey in advancing the Universal Declaration. To the two distinguished guest speakers here today with us, thank you for your willing to share your valuable experiences with us.

In closing, please allow me to highlight the role of youth in upholding and advancing the principles enshrined in the Declaration. You, today’s youth, are not simply passive witnesses. You have within your power to be positive agents of change. You represent an immense and valuable potential contribution to shape the future of sustainable development, peace, and the protection of human rights. I encourage you, to take advantage of the wealth of experience and wisdom in the room today, and to actively participate in the interactive Q&A session. 

UNDP is proud to be a long-standing partner of Viet Nam over the past 45 years. We stand ready to work closely with the Government of Viet Nam, development partners and civil society, to keep human rights at the centre of all our efforts upholding dignity, freedom, and justice for all. 

Without further ado, let the University Talk on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begin.

Thank you.