On Human Rights Day, His Holiness Pope Francis makes an appeal to “place human rights at the heart of all policies, including development cooperation policies, even when this means going against the tide.” These words came in a message to the International Conference: entitled “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations” promoted by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development and the Pontifical Gregorian University. The two-day conference is being held to mark the 70th anniversary since the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th Anniversary since the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

As reported by Vatican news, In his message, read by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, His Holiness Pope Francis recognizes that through the two documents being celebrated, “the family of Nations wanted to recognize the equal dignity of every human person”. He explains that these rights are “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interconnected” and that they are rooted in the nature of the human person, as an “inseparable unity of body and soul”. His Holiness Pope Francis says that his thoughts are with those who “are subject to acts of intolerance, discrimination and violence because of their racial, ethnic, national or religious affiliation”, and stresses that he cannot forget those who are victims of the tragedy that is armed conflict, “while unscrupulous death merchants are enriched at the price of the blood of their brothers and sisters”.

His Holiness Pope Francis ends his message by expressing his hope that “these days of reflection may awaken consciences and inspire initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting human dignity”. With this, the Pontiff says, “I entrust each of you, your families and your people.”