Muscat: UN Secretary General António Guterres recently called for the world recommit itself to International Humanitarian Law.
Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, the former premier of Portugal said, "The rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights belong to everyone, everywhere."
These were, however, challenging times the UN Chief admitted. Over a thousand human rights defenders and journalists were killed in the last three years, he confirmed.
"In 2018, four environmental activists, mostly indigenous people, were killed every week," Guterres added.
"We are also seeing a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance – including rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred."
"Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace. It spreads like wildfire through social media, the Internet, and conspiracy theories. It is abetted by public discourse that stigmatises women. minorities, migrants, refugees and any so-called “other”."
He warned, "hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian states alike. Some major political parties and leaders are cutting and pasting ideas from the fringes into their own propaganda and electoral campaigns.
"And parties once rightly considered pariahs are gaining influence over governments. And with each broken norm, the pillars of humanity are weakened," he warned.
"We must re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and continue to work for common values and international cooperation to reassert rights and help protect people from ruthless traffickers, smugglers and other predators.
"And in this anniversary year of the Geneva Conventions, let us all recommit to upholding international humanitarian law."