2024 Common Wealth Day: Full Speech By Executive Secretary Of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu

SPEECH PRESENTED BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISION ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE COMMONWEALTH DAY 2024 AT THE BUKHARI BELLO AUDITORIUM, NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, ABUJA ON THE 11TH OF MARCH 2024.

Your Excellencies, High Commissioners present, keynote Speaker, distinguished invited guests, colleagues, members of the electronic and print media, ladies and gentlemen.
I am honoured to welcome you to the National Human Rights Commission on a special day like this where we have come together to celebrate the 2024 Commonwealth Day. This year’s commemoration with the theme “One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Commonwealth” creates a moment for reflection by members and citizens of the Commonwealth on the core values of peace, democracy and human rights which are the foundation upon which this very unique institution is built. The commemoration also provides and opportunity to recommit ourselves to achieving these ideals and to advance cooperation towards achieving the goal of the Commonwealth – unity, peace, progress and prosperity of nations which recognizes diversity, human dignity and a sustainable future. The National Human Rights Commission identifies today with the ideals and purpose of the Commonwealth and join all member states to celebrate the Commonwealth on this special occasion. As Nigeria’s premier National Human Rights Institution, want to use this auspicious occasion to promote one of our main mandates, which is national and international cooperation for the advancement of human rights. We are honoured that we are having in our midst today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and the High Commissions of the Commonwealth to share this moment with us.

The Commonwealth is a historic platform that promotes democracy, peace and human rights, core values that deliver sustainable development and prosperity to all. The National Human Rights Commission shares in these values and believes that its mission to promote, protect and enforce human rights fits squarely into these principles.
In many parts of the world today, we are faced with numerous social, political, economic and conflict related challenges which impacts on the attainment of the values which we celebrate here today. From climate change, insecurity, undemocratic interferences to hunger, inequalities, conflicts of diverse classifications, among many others with attendant consequences on the enjoyment of human rights, an environment of peace and sustainable development. In the midst of this gloomy picture, lies a bright hope that coming together as nations and peoples we can chart a course that can bring us to dialogue on ways we can improve upon our society and create an environment that will advance the course of the wellbeing of humanity, this lies at the background of the unique opportunity presented by this event.
This year’s theme is unique as it focuses on the challenges we face as a people. Building resilience is a developmental imperative through which nations and people drive through common challenge through cooperation and belief. Through resilience we can build a common future that will birth to us the commonwealth of our dreams. This we can achieve through collaborations and mutual support among us in harnessing our unique strengths in facing headlong, the monsters challenging our world. Recognizing the complexities we face; we cannot record success without a coordinated effort in finding lasting solutions to achieve sustainable development goals.
It is for this reason that we have carefully selected the topic for this keynote speech of today – The Role of the Commonwealth in Advancing the Right to Development.” The right to development lies at the heart of the principles and objectives of the Commonwealth as both an individual and collective rights. We are lucky to have Professor Nsongurua Udombana, Vising Fello at the Human Rights Institute who is our speaker today, we look forward to this lecture.
As we reflect on this theme, let us be reminded that the essence of our coming together to mark this event is to harness the unique opportunities available in this auditorium by the distinguished personalities present, to share individual perspectives from member nations here present and explore the opportunity of networking through the support system available in the over 80 intergovernmental, civil, cultural and professional organizations working with the Commonwealth organization and to promote the knowledge of human rights.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished personalities, while we celebrate the Commonwealth day, permit me to share some perspectives on the efforts of the Commission in promoting forums where the course of human rights will be on the table in order to push narratives around its advancement which includes our monthly human rights situation dashboard presentation that monitors and presents infographics on the status of human rights in Nigeria, development of policy on Right to development, a quarterly forum on human rights and society where we discuss on how human rights can transform our society positively, the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights with the National Working Group already set to action and most importantly our National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights which sets our goals and targets for achieving our rights mandate. We are open to collaborations from development partners in supporting our efforts in this wise which we hope to access from the huge human and material resources available in this room.
Ladies and gentlemen, on this occasion, let us reaffirm our commitment in upholding the values of the Commonwealth by enhancing our efforts and strengthening partnerships. Let us in the words of the Commonwealth Secretary General “resolve together to ensure that in the years to come, we make the peaceful and sustainable common future we all strive for a reality for the whole Commonwealth.”

Thank You and once again I welcome you all.
Tony Ojukwu, OFR, SAN, FICMC
Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer
National Human Rights Commission

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