Sixty-four years ago today, on a cold winter morning in Paris, delegates from around the world came together to adopt an historic document that was soon to become the foundation of international human rights law: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR has since become the most widely recognized and accepted human rights contract in history.
Adopted in 1948, the UDHR has been the foundation for an entire body of international human rights treaties, both binding and voluntary. For decades, it has inspired local and global efforts to hold human rights violators accountable — including PAN’s Permanent People’s Tribunal on violations perpetrated by the Big 6 pesticide corporations, held late last year.
Corporations often consider themselves above the law when it comes to upholding human rights, and our governments frequently fail to act. Transnational corporations in particular can act with impunity because there is no court of law equipped to hold them to account.
Decades after the devastating accident at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, the people of Bhopal have yet to see justice. Dow Chemical refuses to accept responsibility for the disaster and continues to avoid or delay legal action indefinitely. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and DuPont are no different. As we saw in cases from Alaska to Florida during last year's tribunal, the pesticide industry continues to operate "above the law," which is why we the people must hold corporations to account.
Today is a day to remember, to honor, and to celebrate the brave struggles of individuals and movements that have strived to do just this.
Given the disproportionate impact of the pesticide industry in communities of color and low-income communities around the world, we find it particularly poignant and fitting that this year’s International Human Rights Day theme is “my voice counts,” highlighting the rights of all peoples to have their voices be heard and included in political decisionmaking.
With your support, we continue to work towards a day when frontline communities from Indiana to India can participate in just and democratic decisionmaking, and are ensured fairness, dignity and opportunity free of violations by the pesticide industry. This is why today, we joined with over fifty allies around the world in calling upon Mr. Michael Posner at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to take a stand and address these violations.