December 10: Human Rights Serve as a Basis for Democracy

Fundamental human rights have come increasingly under question by the people. And the churches have viewed this development with concern. In response, the churches spoke out on the relationship between democracy and human rights to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10. “Fundamental human rights are an essential basis for a functioning democracy geared toward justice,” underscored Bishop Markus Büchel, President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, Rev. Gottfried Locher, Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, and Bishop Harald Rein of the Old-Catholic Church of Switzerland. A democratic system can only begin to meet the call for justice if it is built upon these fundamental rights.

The churches’ joint flyer with the title “Seek justice!” (Isaiah 1:17), issued to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, emphasized the fundaments of democracy. This includes democratic participation in the establishment of laws that apply to all, a just state with laws meant to uphold justice, solidarity with all who live in the country, and access to independent courts.

Human rights must serve as a standard for legal scrutiny, even before a higher court such as the European Court of Human Rights. Only in such a way can human rights can be more than a dead letter. That is the ultimate guarantee of our freedom and security as citizens of a state worthy of our trust.

The idea of universal human rights is indeed not a mere given. Only subsequent to the horrors of the totalitarian systems of the 20th century has humankind been able to come to such an understanding. Every man and every woman has recourse to these rights, regardless of socioeconomic status, culture, religion, or ethnic background. The churches insist that this achievement of our civilization cannot be relinquished for the shortsighted purposes of day-to-day politics that prioritize particular and national interests.

The cantonal churches invite you to sign the ACAT appeal for actions to mark Human Rights Day.