Conference on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights held at the Federation Council

The event was chaired by Deputy Speaker Ilyas Umakhanov

The Federation Council held a conference on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was chaired by Deputy Speaker Ilyas Umakhanov.

The conference was organised by the Council for Interaction with Civil Society Institutions under the Federation Council Speaker, the Public Chamber and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, plus the Council of Human Rights Commissioners.

Ilyas Umakhanov noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted 70 years ago, is one of the most important international documents. “The adoption of this Declaration was a landmark event in global politics and international law, and its huge political and moral importance has not waned with time,” the Deputy Speaker said. “The Declaration has preserved its place among the fundamental pillars of the modern world order.”

Chair of the Federation Council Committee on House Rules and Parliamentary Governance Andrei Kutepov emphasised that the Declaration, which was adopted barely a few years after the end of World War II, proclaimed the values that had been flagrantly violated during the global conflict. It was supported by the majority of the world’s nations and remains the key international standard in the sphere of human rights and freedoms to this very day. “Life has shown that an agreement is possible on many subjects even in the most complex situation when interstate relations have been soured by irreconcilable contradictions. The main thing is to make mutual concessions and respect the interests of all negotiating parties,” the committee chair pointed out.

Andrei Kutepov noted that the fundamental rights and freedoms hailed in the Declaration were incorporated in the 1993 Constitution of Russia, including political rights such as the right to freedom of thought, right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to take part in the government of one’s country. The Russian Constitution also proclaims the four economic rights set out in the Universal Declaration: the right to work and to free choice of employment, the right to own property and the right to be protected from arbitrary deprivation of one’s property.

Andrei Kutepov said that the Human Rights Commissioner, the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights and the Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights play a major role in the creation of human rights instruments and that positive experience in the sphere of human rights had been accumulated at the regional level. “The Senators have submitted a draft law introducing operating principles for regional human rights commissioners. I am sure that it will help enhance the efficiency of this human rights instrument,” the committee chair noted.

Andrei Kutepov went on to say that the adoption of the Federal Law On Basic Principles of Public Oversight in the Russian Federation was a crucial factor for the creation of instruments for the protection of civil rights and independent control over the operations of federal agencies as well as local governments.

The Senator recalled that one more right, set out in the Universal Declaration – the right to freedom of movement – was widely used in Russia in the summer of 2018 when FAN ID holders of the 2018 FIFA World Cup could enter and exit Russia without any visas.

Andrei Kutepov also spoke about the rapid development of the volunteer movement in Russia as a vital aspect of the progress of civil society in the country. At this point in time, the movement includes over seven million people.

Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova noted that global harmony rests on the individual and human rights and freedoms. She pointed out the regrettable erosion of human rights in the world and the use of double standards in the assessment of similar developments in different countries. Tatiana Moskalkova recalled that the Universal Declaration had kept the world from sliding into chaos and a third world war for 70 years.

“We are now witnessing an increasing trend towards politicising the subject of human rights in some countries, the weakening of human rights protection mechanisms, the use of double standards in assessing various developments as well as the erosion of human rights,” the ombudsman said.

Chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov noted that the further development of civil society and the volunteer movement should be promoted in the country.

Mikhail Fedotov proposed advancing an initiative to hold the third UN World Conference on Human Rights in 2023. He recalled that the first two such conferences were held in Tehran in 1968 and in Vienna in 1993. “We can propose holding a third World Conference on Human Rights in 2023,” he suggested.

The chair of the Presidential Council said that the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will be marked in 2023, “is a wonderful occasion to get together to discuss the erosion of the institute of human rights and modern interpretations of human rights.”

Other speakers at the conference represented federal ministries and agencies, volunteer organisations together with the expert community.