In an era of compounding challenges that pose significant risks to societies worldwide – particularly rising economic inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss, and rapid technological advancement – there is a crucial role for the human rights system to contribute to bold and creative global responses.
The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in December 2023, is a time to reflect on how the human rights system as it has evolved since 1948 can remain relevant to a world that is very different to the one in which the declaration came into being.
This briefing paper argues that there is true opportunity for renewal. It examines how the human rights system should seek to achieve positive change; and proposes an agenda for how human rights can be applied to some of the greatest challenges now facing our world.
Of course, a focus on the challenges of inequality, climate and technology does not mean turning away from other human rights priorities. In particular, at a time when many civil and political rights are under serious threat, the role of human rights in holding open the space for meaningful civic participation must remain a priority.