The Government of Catalonia, through the Ministry of Equality and Feminisms and the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to Switzerland, organised today’s event titled "75th anniversary UDHR: the role of public policies to protect human rights defenders", at which the minister, Tània Verge Mestre, was speaking. The event is part of the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is being held throughout the day in Geneva.
The event, which focused on debating the role of governments and institutions in the defence of human rights, consisted of a conversation led by Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), with the participation of Minister Verge and Paola Pacheco, of the Mexican civil society organisation Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (Serapaz). At the beginning of the event, the Catalan Government Delegate to Switzerland, Gabriel Boichat, underlined Catalonia's commitment to the defence of human rights.
Minister Verge highlighted Catalonia's role as an international actor in this field. The Government of Catalonia is the first European government with its own plan to protect human rights defenders in Catalonia. At the beginning of the year, the Government of Catalonia began to offer free legal advice service for human rights defenders that carry out their work in Catalonia. The aim of the service is to provide initial support to organisations that suffer discrimination, aggression and attacks aimed at censuring and limiting their work in defence of human rights.
Catalonia as a stronghold in the protection of rights
Minister Verge stated that "the government's plan is a clear political statement: in the face of the rise of far-right parties and anti-rights groups around the world, including in Europe, that promote hatred against various social groups and seek to roll back fundamental human rights, Catalonia will be a stronghold for rights in all areas of public policy, especially those threatened by the culture wars declared by the far right worldwide”, for example, with attacks against the right to abortion, transphobia, and racism.
Minister Verge recalled the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, who described the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a "Magna Carta for humanity". The Minister declared: "75 years later, we must continue to reinforce, more than ever, the validity of this anti-fascist manifesto and, following its foundational spirit, to strengthen strategic alliances among all actors to continue guaranteeing human rights: governments, international organisations and civil society".
In this respect, Verge explained other actions that the Government is also promoting that include the participation of different actors. For example, the government also provides assistance to human rights defenders in other countries whose lives are in danger, through the Catalan Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
During the visit to Geneva, Minister Verge also met with Ana Peláez, president of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); with Kreena Govender, representative of the Global Observatory for Gender Equality and Sport; and with Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The different meetings have served to exchange experiences and forge international alliances in the field of feminist policies and the defence of human rights.