Human rights are universal and thus apply to all individuals regardless of gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race or their cultural, ethnical or religious background. Internationally, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is regarded as one of the core documents. In 1966, the UN adopted two legally binding conventions for the protection of respectively civil and political rights (such as the right to life, freedom and fair trial) and economic, social and cultural rights (securing the most fundamental living conditions for citizens such as the right to work, the right to education and to a decent standard of living). Subsequently, the UN has adopted a number of conventions and optional protocols thereto focusing on groups with a particular need for protection, including children, women, persons with disabilities and migrants.
The UN General Assembly in New York has an essential role in promoting human rights, especially by adopting new human rights standards and conventions and fostering debates about the protection of human rights and Member States’ compliance with human rights obligations. Each year, the Third Committee of the General Assembly deals with a series of human rights subjects and adopts a great number of resolutions relating to both country-specific human rights situations and thematic issues such as social development, the right to self-determination and the global promotion of gender equality. These resolutions contribute to confirming and further developing international human rights standards.
Denmark’s international work in human rights is deeply rooted in our foreign and development policies. The Danish Mission to the UN aims to create international human rights norms and standards through work in the UN General Assembly and other UN bodies. Especially the absolute prohibition of torture, the global fight for gender equality and the rights of indigenous peoples are Danish key priorities.
Denmark is one of the key actors in the international fight against torture. Every other year, Denmark puts forward a resolution on this topic in the General Assembly. Thematic torture resolutions are also put forward by Denmark in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Moreover, in early 2014, Denmark in collaboration with Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco launched the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) which aims at securing universal ratification and improved implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. Read more about CTI, here.
Even though there has been significant progress in relation to women’s rights, gender inequality is still a major challenge many places in the world. Violations against women persist - including gender discrimination and physical, psychological and sexual violence. A core aspect in the Danish efforts in promoting gender equality is a strong focus on the sexual and reproductive rights of women. Women have the right to have control over their own body. Women’s health is first and foremost essential for the individual women herself and her family, but it also affects the economy in the community and country in which she lives.
The rights of indigenous peoples are also a main priority for Denmark. Indigenous peoples are groups with a specific ethnicity, culture, language and identity, for instance Native Americans, the Masai and the Inuit people. They are often displaced from their native land and territory and in many instances they are in conflicts over the ownership to the natural resources in their collectively owned land areas. In collaboration with Greenland, Denmark works actively for ensuring that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected. Particularly, this takes place in the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and in the UN Expert Mechanism for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) where Governments and indigenous peoples’ representatives come together.
Denmark is currently running for a seat in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in the period 2019-2021.