10 December 2008 - Today, the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This "single short document of 30 articles has probably had more impact on mankind than any other document in modern history," says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. "For the first time all human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social - were recognized as belonging inherently to all people".
For billions of people in poor countries, food, shelter and health are basic rights, which UNODC supports in many ways.
UNODC promotes the rule of law by tackling corruption. "Throughout the developing world, billions of dollars urgently needed for health care, education, clean water and infrastructure are drained through bribes and other offences." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted. "It denies people their fundamental human rights". The UN is taking action through the UN Convention against Corruption, which contains strong measures to boost integrity within both the public and private sectors.
UNODC builds fair and effective criminal justice systems. It helps States to reform their criminal justice systems, with particular emphasis on vulnerable groups. The Office has developed projects in the areas of juvenile justice, penal reform and support to victims. It has also prepared assessment tools and manuals in all areas of criminal justice reform, based on United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice.
UNODC fights human trafficking. The Trafficking Protocol of the Transnational Organized Crime Convention gives the first internationally agreed definition of human trafficking, a crime against humanity. It obliges States to criminalize this practice, and many have adopted legislation translating the Protocol's obligations into national law.
Health is the cornerstone of drug policy. Drug abuse is an illness affecting 25 million users worldwide. Let us not demonize them. A humane drug policy should reduce the demand for drugs while treating addiction. UNODC advocates a comprehensive package of measures to reduce vulnerability, treat the condition and prevent the spread of diseases associated with drug use, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Finally, in States that have not abolished the death penalty, UNODC believes people should not be executed for drug-related crimes. Although drugs kill, we should not kill because of drugs.
Full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available in more than 300 languages.
Full text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement.