(KPL) International Human Rights Day, which we celebrate each December 10th, commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. We look to this landmark declaration not just as a reminder of values, but also as a set of principles underpinning all of our policies and actions.

In 2019, under the call to action “Stand Up for Human rights,” we celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change and as a source of inspiration for a promising future. In Laos, where 59 per cent of the population are children and young people below the age of 25, this year’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was especially important.

On the occasion of the World Children’s Day in New York held in November this year, Nickar, a youth advocate for education, also showed to us the strength and leadership of the Lao young generation in advocating for a more sustainable world for all. She rightly reminded the Government and the Development partners alike that improving education delivery and offering equal opportunity for all young Lao people to fulfil their potential is not just the highest return-on-investment available for the country, but also the only way to guarantee equitable growth that leave no child behind. Let there be no doubt about our common commitment to this goal.

To this end, we also need to secure school attendance, by protecting girls from child marriage and adolescent pregnancy along with measures to reintegrate those who drop out back into schooling or vocational training. And, to ensure that children are healthy, full of curiosity and an open mind with the ability to absorb the learning to their fullest extent. Nutrition and good health are therefore vital, and that health services are available even for the hardest to reach, that everyone can receive the essential health services they need, which is in itself a contributor to human rights.

A very strong link indeed exists between the 2030 Agenda and human rights as many of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets are linked up to international human rights instruments. The established human rights mechanisms such as the upcoming third Universal Periodic Review of Lao PDR in January 2020—the first human rights mechanism to ever achieve 100 per cent member States participation, will therefore be a useful reference tool to measure the achievements under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in 2015, and also, to share the best practices with the rest of the world. In that regard, we commend the legislative and policy efforts to improve the Lao legal framework on economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights. We will remain staunch supporters of all efforts to bridge the gap between the adoption of the laws and their enforcement.

We also laud the Lao Government’s progress to lay the groundwork for a genuine and well-functioning ‘Rule of Law State’.  Pursuing key reforms and ensuring that domestic laws and their application are in line with all international treaties and human rights standards Laos has committed to are of utmost importance for an inclusive, equal and vibrant society, free of pain and suffering and leaving no one behind. 

Central to this is our desire to engage even more with the Government and people of Laos to achieve this ambitious agenda and the vision of Lao PDR of a just, fair and equal State as enshrined in the country’s Constitution. The Lao PDR, with its diverse peoples and reputation for social tolerance, recognizes the importance of these values for all, and in turn represents a source of inspiration for all of us. Only together can we promote, protect and preserve human dignity, not only for ourselves, but above all for the future generations.

By: The UN Resident Coordinator in the Lao PDR and the Ambassador of the European Union to the Lao PDR.