75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Defending the Rights of Everyone, Everywhere

Published: Sat Dec 09 2023

The event aims to:

  • reiterate the importance and the timelessness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common foundation of the fundamental rights and liberties of all, and reaffirm the universality, indivisibility and inalienability of human rights;
  • emphasise the unique role of human rights defenders in the protection and promotion of rights and liberties;
  • identify contemporary challenges and demonstrate how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitutes a relevant tool to address them,
  • underline the role of justice in the fight against impunity to safeguard human rights, especially at times of war or in the case of terrorist acts.

10December 1948: Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations' General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris

15.00 – 15.45 Round table 1: Supporting and protecting human rights defenders (45mn)

Human rights defenders are the voice and the field practitioners of the universal values of human rights, ensuring their dissemination. They often face reprisals and their action sometimes puts their life and the lives of their entourage in danger. The protection of these defenders is therefore both a moral duty and a strategic challenge that is essential to ensure rights and freedoms for all are respected worldwide. More national measures and international cooperation are needed to strengthen their protection and fight the reprisals they face.

Discussion points:

  • the action of human rights defenders as the cornerstone of human rights, democratic resilience and sustainable development;
  • the need to support rights defenders in their struggle amid a shrinking of civic space and decrease in rights and freedoms;
  • the importance of international cooperation to strengthen their protection.


  • Ms Mary Lawlor, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders;
  • Dr Nagham Hasan, Human rights defender and laureate of the Marianne Initiative;
  • Ms Alice Nkom, lawyer, specialist of the rights of LGBT+ persons;
  • Mr Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Director-General of Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM - “Together against the Death Penalty”) and Chair of the Plateforme des Droits de l'Homme (PDH - human rights platform);
  • Ms Alice Mogwe, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH);
  • Mr Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

Moderator: Ms Delphine Borione, Ambassador for Human Rights.

15.45 – 16.30 Round table 2: New frontiers for rights (45 mn)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a product of its time, emerging in the wake of the Second World War. As a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”, it must serve as a legal foundation with respect to new challenges.

Discussion points:

  • challenges posed by information technology, digital technology and artificial intelligence;
  • environment and climate challenges;
  • academic freedoms and rights in service of science.


  • Ms Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences;
  • Mr Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF);
  • Ms Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Director of the Law Division of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (videoconference);
  • Mr Matthias Guyomar, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR);
  • Ms Nisreen Elsaim, Human rights defender and laureate of the Marianne Initiative – Member of the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.

Moderator: Mr David Griffiths, Human rights consultant and member of the International Law Programme at Chatham House.

(16.30 – 17.00 30mn break)

17.00 – 17.45 Ministerial session: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and challenges to rights (50 mn)

At a time of democratic backsliding with the affirmation of authoritarian regimes and emergence of illiberal regimes and growing challenges to the universality of human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be reaffirmed as the common foundation of universal, indivisible and interdependent rights and the values of freedom, peace and justice for all.


  • Ms Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs;
  • Mr Robert Badinter, former Minister of Justice (video);
  • Ms Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate;
  • Ms Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate;
  • Ms Oleksandra Maviitchuk, Director of the Center for Civil Liberties, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate (videoconference);
  • Mr Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

17.50 – 18.40 Round table 3: Fighting impunity at all times (50 mn)

Impunity erodes citizens' trust in their institutions and, following a conflict, is an obstacle to restoring stability and peace. Whether they are committed by States, armed groups, businesses or private individuals, human rights abuses and violations of international criminal law must be recognised, their perpetrators brought to justice, and their victims supported. Much progress has been made in international justice since 1948, but the remaining weaknesses mean we must act to strengthen its effectiveness.

Discussion points:

  • developing international mechanisms and tools to fight impunity;
  • means of strengthening the prevention of crimes and transitional justice;
  • the challenge of impunity in contexts of war and terrorism.

Speakers and panellists:

  • opening remarks by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Ms Catherine Colonna;
  • opening remarks by the Minister of Justice Mr Eric Dupond-Moretti;
  • Mr Karim Khan, Prosecutor General at the International Criminal Court (video);
  • President Lavergne, former judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia and president of international crime trial courts in France;
  • Ms Ekaterina Trendafilova, President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers;
  • Ms Noura Ghazi, Syrian lawyer, laureate of the Marianne Initiative.

Moderator: Ms Muriel Ubeda-Saillard, law professor

18.40 Move to the Grand Foyer

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