United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
December 10, 2021
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on International Human Rights Day
On International Human Rights Day, the United States celebrates the importance of human rights and the critical need to protect those rights both domestically and globally. Human rights are inherent in every person, a principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 73 years ago today.
On this day, we reaffirm that human rights apply to all individuals, no matter their race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
This year, I have had the opportunity to meet with young people all around the world. I have been struck by how, no matter their background, they have similar wants and needs. They want safety and security. They want to be able to express themselves freely, to learn about the world and pursue their educations, to achieve their dreams without fearing for their lives.
These were the very same “essential human freedoms” that, 80 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out in his famous “Four Freedoms” speech. Building from there, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used that groundwork to help chair the drafting committee of the UDHR and define its very tenets.
Today, eight decades later, the United States leads the world on protecting and enhancing human rights for all people. The U.S. will continue to take an active role in ensuring resolutions are inclusive of people in all their diversity, including when we officially rejoin the UN Human Rights Council as an elected member on January 1, 2022.
It is no coincidence that today is also the second day of President Biden’s first Summit for Democracy, which aims to facilitate greater global cooperation on the protection and promotion of human rights. I am honored to be leading a panel discussion on the need to protect democratic institutions and hosting a Youth Town Hall during this Summit. Together with our international partners, we will redouble our commitment to defending human rights and promoting the system that best ensures them: Democracy.