The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been marked this week as a milestone document in the history of human rights.
Drafted by representatives with varied legal and cultural backgrounds, the declaration sets out a common framework for all signatories concerning human rights after the atrocities experienced during the Second World War.
The year 1948 was the first time in history that countries came together to protect fundamental human rights.
According to its preamble, the declaration recognises the “inherent dignity” and the “equal and inalienable rights” of humankind, stressing that “human rights should be protected by the rule of law”.
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) said this week that adequate protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights – whether economic, social and cultural, or civil and political – requires that everyone has effective access to legal services provided by independent lawyers.The CCBE is working in support of threatened lawyers worldwide, and makes an annual human rights award each year.
The CCBE also regularly writes to national authorities when lawyers are victims of human-rights violations. This year, the CCBE has already sent more than 50 letters to 31 countries where lawyers have gone missing, have been assaulted, harassed or even murdered.
The CCBE also supports the work currently carried out by the Council of Europe on a proposed European convention on the profession of lawyer and welcomed the recommendation adopted in January by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), inviting the committee of ministers to draft such a convention.
The CCBE considers that such a binding instrument is needed in order to respond to attacks against the role of lawyers, which have grown over recent years.
Such a convention would strengthen the rule of law and, thereby, the protection of the profession of lawyer, whose mission is fundamental in the administration of justice and the safeguarding of fundamental rights.