UN, NHRC, Brazil, Belgium join forces to raise awareness on human rights

The UN, National Human Rights Commission, Brazil and Belgium have called for a holistic approach towards boosting awareness on human rights to end abuse.

The organisations made the call on Tuesday at the Human Rights Film Festival in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. .

The film festival, which started from December 5 to 9, was organised by the UN in Nigeria, the NHRC, the Brazil Embassy and the Belgium Embassy in Abuja.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mathias Schmale, commended the event for being apt in the promotion of people’s rights.

Mr Schmale said, “We are in the middle of 16 days of action against violence against women and girls, and that is a human rights issue. We should remember that we are also here today on the International Day of Volunteering. Many human rights organisations worldwide depend on volunteers to do the documentation necessary to bring human rights issues to the public.

“So, there are lots of things that are interconnected, without the NHRC the UN would not have had strong footprints in Nigeria around human rights issues.”

The Executive Secretary and CEO of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu (SAN), said the festival sought to use film as a tool to boost fights against issues about human rights.

“To foster enduring collaborations among Nigerian film- makers in a unique blend of vicious narratives and emotions. Films have a profound capacity to touch our hearts, transform perspectives and inspire meaningful change. They bring to light the shadows of injustice, narrate untold stories of the marginalised, and act as catalysts for social and political transformation. In showcasing these films, our festival highlights the remarkable efficacy of cinema as a tool of human rights advocacy,” Mr Ojukwu said.

On his part, the Deputy Ambassador of Brazil to Nigeria, Joao Soares, described human rights as the most important in the framework of international multilateral bodies.

Mr Soares said, “Human rights are one of the priorities of the current Brazilian foreign policy. In Brazil, we are celebrating the 35th-year of our constitution. This constitution is the most comprehensive in the history of our country, in terms of human rights protection and democracy.”

The envoy described the document, among others, as the culmination of Brazil’s process through which the dignity of every human being has been affirmed as a principle.

Meanwhile, the Ambassador-designate of the Embassy of Belgium to Nigeria, Pieter Leenknegt, said that his country was thrilled to have partnered towards promoting human rights.

“Belgium is very thrilled to be a junior partner in this commemoration at this film festival. Belgium, Brazil and Nigeria look like good starting points for some intercontinental football tournaments, but this time it is about human rights. Human rights are a priority issue for Belgium at home and also a cornerstone of our foreign policy abroad,” Mr Leenknegt noted.

The event attracted Hannatu Musawa, Minister for Art, Culture and Creative Economy, represented by her Special Assistant, Baba Agba, Chinonyelum Obiagwu (SAN), and the Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute, among others.

The event’s highpoint was the screening of the structural racism ‘Right to Memory’ film by Joel Araujo, and a discussion on Human Rights 75 and Nigeria.