Full statement by President-elect Joe Biden on Human Rights Day
Seventy two years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt and other leaders from around the globe adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirming that all human beings are “born free and equal in dignity and rights.” From the horrors of a world war, they championed a simple yet revolutionary truth — that peace, prosperity, and justice rely on our obligation to uphold the universal rights of all.
Today, we recognize Human Rights Day and honor those who work tirelessly, often at great personal risk, to defend fundamental freedoms and fight oppression. Around the world, authoritarian leaders desperate to maintain their grip on power deny this truth: internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms are each — equally — the entitlement of all. It makes no difference where we live and no matter how we look, how we pray, or whom we love. In too many countries, people are imprisoned and face torture or death for speaking their minds, reporting the news, or demanding their rights.
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This year, amid a pandemic and global protests, we are reminded of how much work remains to be done to root out the systemic inequities that continue to cut short lives and imperil livelihoods. And as we work with partners and through international organizations to advance human rights globally, we must also recognize that our task begins at home. Every American — regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — should be free to flourish in a society that values and defends equal justice for all. We must lead by the power of our example, standing in solidarity with generations of brave women and men who have fought for our common dignity.
My administration will build on this legacy and stand with human rights defenders here in the United States and the world over as we put universal rights and strengthening democracy at the center of our efforts to meet the challenges of the 21st century.