As we gather today to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, we acknowledge and pay tribute to the role these landmark documents have played in improving the lives of people around the world and laying the foundations for a more just and secure world.
Singapore has always respected the fundamental human rights enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the UDHR in our enduring quest to build a fair, just and inclusive society.
We treasure, and will protect every Singaporean against any threat, regardless of their race, language, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
We firmly apply the rule of law to protect the human rights and freedoms of Singaporeans as enshrined in our Constitution, and to uphold the core principles of fairness, secularism, meritocracy and multi-racialism.
Implementation is key if we are to continue achieving the goals and ideals of the UDHR.
Our view is that we have to take a practical and not an ideological approach to the realisation of human rights.
This is because people’s understanding of and approach to human rights evolve over time as their societies change.
Sometimes, it requires seeking accommodation among the competing rights of the individuals who make up the nation and the broader interests of society as a whole, as recognised in the UDHR.
We therefore believe every country should be given the time and space to deal with its own development and to advance human rights in its own way, taking into account its unique social and cultural context.
Taking an uncompromising ideological approach towards the promotion and protection of human rights at the UN, including the Human Rights Council, or other international fora could lead to politicisation, ritualism and formalism rather than achieving real improvements in people’s lives on the ground.
Thank you, Mr President.
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