The 10th of December every year is marked globally as Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), the first-ever declaration on the rights and freedom of all human beings that have become a springboard for constitutional and legal recognition of fundamental rights and freedoms around the world.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All. The theme encapsulates the standards enshrined in the UDHR and other legally binding human rights treaties that promote and protect all categories of human rights: Civil, Political, Social, Economic, and Cultural.

Citizens of Nigeria are yet to enjoy their human rights, including the basic right to life, healthcare and means for livelihood sustainability. The Constitutional reforms that should have made legally enforceable socio-economic rights espoused in chapter two of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended have been stalled. The admonition during the 1993 world conference on human rights held in Vienna, Austria to the effect that all human rights are universal, interrelated, interdependent and should be globally treated in an equal manner and on the same footing has been largely ignored as many Nigerians continue to wallow in poverty, food and human insecurity,

WACOL appeals for the longest that if we are to guarantee the full enjoyment of all human rights then our socio-economic rights should be made justiciable and realizable.

As an organisation, this year’s theme reminds us of our journey so far, the milestones and challenges we have encountered in our fight to protect human rights and promote justice for all, especially the most vulnerable in society.

For more than two decades WACOL has remained committed to its vision and goal of a democratic society free from violence where the human rights of all, in particular, women and children are protected and respected. In our just concluded 25 years anniversary celebration, we recognized the contributions of icons like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Justice Nnamani, President of Customary Court of Appeal, Joy Ezeilo, Rev. Surveyor Ugo Chime, Prof. Stella Okunna, H.E. Pauline Tallen, Oby Ezekwesili, Emeritus Professors Bolanle Awe and Obioma Nwaorgu, Mrs. Maureen Atuonwu, Miriam Menkiti, Funke Baruwa, Joy Onyesoh, Ene Obi, Tony Ojukwu, Igwe RSN Ezeh, Nkechi Ilochi-Kanny and a host of others to ensure a just and fair Nigeria where women and girls enjoy their human rights free from violence and gender-based discrimination.

We also acknowledged the support of intergovernmental and international organisations like the United Nations and its various agencies, the Ford Foundation, Action Aid, MacArthur Foundation, the United Kingdom, ROLAC/ British Council, European Union, Switzerland, and the United States Governments towards building human rights culture, vibrant civil society, sustainable democracy, and development.

It is imperative for all groups to unite and join the fight against injustice/violation of human rights.

Importantly, all actors must intentionally work towards effective implementation of the human rights standards, especially the right to life, survival, and development and respect of the principles of equality and non –discrimination.

All arms of Government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) and at different levels – national, state, and local – have an obligation to protect, respect, and remedy any violations of human rights.

We must all #StandUp4HumanRight, and take action to educate and create awareness that will enhance the knowledge and enforcement of human rights.

Happy International Human Rights Day! In solidarity, we can achieve a world where human rights are promoted and protected in law and practice and in the remotest part of our communities.

Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo OON, SAN

Founder WACOL TamarSARC and GirlsWill

Professor of Public Law and Human Rights Defender

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.