Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo on the International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2013

Dec 10, 2013

Mia Seppo: UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi. Photo: Mia Seppo, UNDP Malawi.


On this day, when we celebrate Human Rights, we recognize what we have in common, rather than what may set us apart. Humanity has no titles and no distinction in their rights.

Therefore, today, as we celebrate Human Rights for All, allow me to simply say, all protocols observed.

On behalf of the United Nations, I’m honoured to be making this statement today.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and remains as relevant today, as it did then. It has been said that, “A Vision without actions is merely a dream”, while “Actions without a Vision is a nightmare”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a blueprint for any country- enshrining a vision and the necessary actions. A vision of equality and basic rights for all.

Principal among these is the right to self-determination.

Over the coming months in the history of Malawi we need to keep in mind a few important points:

  • People are entitled to select their leaders, to stand for public office and to participate in the selection of their representatives. The exercise of these rights are most evident during an election, but their true quality and meaning is forged before and after the event. The education of an informed electorate is a continuous process. It is tested, not learnt, at the polls.
  • Inclusiveness is essential to any democracy. Barriers to the participation of women as candidates and voters must be broken down if any society is to gain the full benefit of democratic rewards.
  • For elected representatives, an election is not the end of their journey, but the beginning.
  • Next year is the 50th anniversary of independence in Malawi, and twenty years of multiparty democracy. Malawi’s upcoming tripartite elections are another step towards realizing the Vision of a democratic and prosperous Malawi. The elections are a cornerstone not only to consolidate Malawi’s democracy, but also to fulfill the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
  • Elections can divide a country; that is the nature of political competition. But they can also unify. Credible and genuine elections confer a unique legitimacy on any nation’s leaders, when all competitors have a free and fair opportunity to compete, and all voters the freedom to express their will. The leaders of all political parties should be committed to this goal. In this context, the importance of a peaceful electoral environment cannot be overstated.
  • Accepting the results of a credible and genuine elections and assuming the role of a “constructive opposition”, if defeated, is as important as the behavior of the victor.

On this important day when we commemorate International Human Rights Day, I would like to encourage all Malawians to exercise their right to participate in the 2014 elections, as voters and as candidates.   It is the right of all Malawians, it is the responsibility of all Malawians   and most importantly, it is the voice of all Malawians that will determine the future of this beautiful country.

I thank you for listening.

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