Concluding Remarks at the Opening Session of  10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

Posted on Feb 21, 2018


YANG Jianli


Concluding Remarks at the Opening Session of 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy


It’s wonderful to see so many old and new friends here at the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. I want to express my profound gratitude to Hillel and his terrific team for putting together just another important assembly of people’s voices in the week leading to the opening of the annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The camaraderie, and the sharing of experiences and strategies at this Summit has always given me hope, even during the darkest days for human rights when too many eyes have adjusted the shadows that power and greed cast on the existence of our brothers and sisters around the world, and when what has been gained in principle, what has been recognized in fact, has been eroded by an acceptance that it is better to accommodate the evil-and hope it changes on its own-than to seek to change it through pressure, denouncement, and direct confrontation.


In this room today are human rights heroes coming from all over the world. They are brave defenders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) whose 70th anniversary this year will mark. What is best in mankind, what is most hopeful about us, are beautifully articulated in the Declaration. These are a distillation of all human experience, all the warnings and screams of our combined human history as well as the principles of light and hope by which we should organize ourselves as a human family.


But, sadly, we must ask again and again how it is that it is so readily ignored and even so casually traduced by some of its signatory states.


In next two days, we will hear from our heroes from around the world and they they will testify what becomes of us, of the mankind, of our world, when these principles are ignored and how a handful of trouble makers can keep the boat of the entire humanity afloat. I think you will agree with me that they are not only defenders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but savers of the humanity itself.


We should be grateful to these heroes for reminding us that tyranny’s desperate wars against fundamental human dignity are bound to fail.  History progresses and older methods of control are swept away as concentrated and illegitimate power faces increased opposition from more and more forces demanding freedom from domination, as has been most recently evidenced by protests in Iran and will surely be proved again and again by the people’s struggle in China, Congo, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tibet, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and other world remaining autocracies. This is the promise of our time.