The main objective of the Asian Forum on Human Rights is to reaffirm the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Human Dimension Commitments of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and their importance in the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in today’s Asian region.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted 70 years ago is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, it was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. It states that the recognition of human dignity is the foundation for justice and peace in the world.
In the UDHR preamble, governments commit themselves and their people to progressive measures that secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of the human rights. Even though the UDHR is not legally binding, the Declaration has been adopted in or has influenced most national constitutions since 1948. It is also considered to be customary law, and has served as the foundation for a growing number of national laws, international laws, and treaties, including the International Bill of Human Rights. Thus, the UDHR provided powerful impetus to further deepening the content, improving the structure, and expanding the scope of human rights commitments of states.
Moreover, the UDHR triggered a growing number of sub-national and regional inter-governmental organizations, as well as national institutions protecting and promoting human rights, inter alia UN entities, agencies and funds, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, national human rights institutions and international and national non-governmental organizations. In particular, the OSCE human dimension commitments link the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms with the institutional and political system of a state. In their commitments the OSCE States have agreed through their human dimension commitments that pluralistic democracy based on the rule of law is the only system of government suitable to guarantee human rights effectively; hence the important role of judiciary and parliaments in ensuring respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights.
The 2030 Agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a plan of action to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. The UN Member States committed themselves to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. They pledged that no one would be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets (all integrated and indivisible) demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal agenda.