Final Declaration of the 2020 World Human Rights Cities Forum

The 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum 

7 – 10 October 2020

Gwangju, Republic of Korea


The Future of Human Rights Cities:

Local Memories and Global Sharing

We, the participants of the 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum 2020, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Democratization Movement of Gwangju citizens who stood up for democracy and human rights in May 1980:

  1. Hoping that the spirit of the ‘May 18 Democratization Movement’ will be communicated beyond Gwangju to cities worldwide for the advancement of democracy and the expansion of human rights, and will build a solidarity with world citizens under oppression and suffering,
  2. Expressing our respect for the City of Gwangju for the efforts to consistently host the ‘World Human Rights Cities Forum’ for the past 10 years together with other cities who have led the ‘human rights city movement’ based on their respective memories and current challenges, and appreciating the cooperation of the UN, local governments, civil societies and experts and the enthusiasm of participants, while strongly requesting that another decade will be committed to further develop the ‘human rights cities movement’ on the basis of our collaboration,
  3. Welcoming the proposal of the ‘Agendas of Gwangju Human Rights City 2030’ summing up the achievements of the human rights cities movement at this precious historic site of the 10th Forum; Exhorting international organizations including UN, central and local governments, and civil societies to stage actions for invigoration of human rights networks, continuous practice of human rights at local level, and the active implementation of human rights education
  4. Paying attention to the recurrence of health pandemics, driving our human society to ‘precarious life’; Acknowledging that the COVID-19 crisis brought forth the physical and psychological sufferings and socio-economic damages such as the asymmetric impacts and exacerbated inequalities to vulnerable populations; Accepting that these problems can be overcome through the trust and cooperation in between nation and nation, state and citizens, and citizens and citizens, both by prevailing over the currently expanding ‘our-nation-first trend’ and ‘us and them’ dichotomies and by adopting social policies and inclusive services that will address their vulnerabilities and promote a human-centered approach to “bring back better”,
  5. Rejecting the possibility of limiting human rights and freedom for everyday life with the excuse of overcoming infectious diseases; Supporting whole-heartedly the ‘COVID-19 Guidelines’ by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution (A/HRC/45/L.27) reinforcing local governments’ role in human rights protection at the 45th session of the Council,
  6. Urging both central and local governments as well as civil societies to initiate immediate and effective actions to practice UN’s ‘sustainable development goals 2030 agenda’ with the full understanding that the climate crisis is the fundamental threat to human rights and human survival itself with unprecedented scale of natural disasters,
  7. Affirming a global-level solidary for inclusion with the full understanding that the history of racial discrimination is a disease that obstacles coexistence and mutual benefit of human community, while deploring the racial discrimination, hatred and violence that are afflicted even to peaceful demonstrations in memory of victims
  8. Expressing our deep concern on the increasing abuse and violence against women, children, the disabled, and the elderly while confirming that all sorts of violence and abuses to human beings should be expelled forever from the human society; Acknowledging the significant role of women and youth as leaders and agents of change in confronting the COVID-19 crisis through their relentless efforts in building communities through sharing and engagement, both in urban and rural areas,
  9. Agreeing with this Forum’s awareness of the reality that a ‘Human Rights City’ does not attain to a completion at present but it becomes sustainable when community efforts are added in the continuum of time in which past history of human rights are reexamined, the present is diagnosed, and the future is created by recognizing that the historical memories and heritage of respective cities need to be brought to knowledge through human rights education and to be encouraged and supported so as to further the development of a better future,
  10. Confirming, therefore, that the ‘Human Rights City Movement’ needs to share the past experiences and community memories each human rights city has in order to share and unite in solidary and to build a constructive future design, while requesting for serious discussion to continue among local government leaders and key actors,
  11. Recommending diverse roles of local governments after finding the linkage between, and promoting the understanding of, anti-corruption and human rights based on the analysis of the concrete cases presented in the International Human Rights Policy Session,
  12. Understanding the increasing challenges of violent extremism world-wide that impedes the creation of human rights cities and the realization of human rights as pointed out in the Indonesian Human Rights City Session, while appreciating the effort of local governments to implement the principles of human rights cities framework in respecting, protecting, and fulfilling human rights,
  13. Acknowledging the solidarity movement by the cities that experienced state violence, and welcoming the efforts of the cities of the Republic of Korea to share experiences and historical memories of national violence, to clarify the truth, and to advance into a more developed future, while expecting these efforts to be expanded worldwide,
  14. Expecting the implementations of the proposals in the eight thematic sessions organized by the civil society of Gwangju –including social economy, environment, the elderly, the disabled, gender, the youth, migrants, and safe cities,
  15. Welcoming the establishment of the International Human Rights Education Center in Gwangju with the understanding that the human rights education is essential for the sustainable development of inclusive cities; Affirming the need of establishing an international human rights education network in order to develop and continuously operate human rights education programmes suitable at the respective local level,
  16. Appreciating the productive exchanges online under the limitation due to COVID-19; Promising to continue communication, solidarity, and cooperation adjusting to the new environment,
  17. Hoping that the 11th World Human Rights Cities Forum will meet in Gwangju and that the current situation will be well overcome so that we will meet in person to share friendly handshakes and hugs instead of meeting online,

The participants of the 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum 2020 agree to practice the following five promises:

  1. We heartfully welcome the participation of two UN organizations: UNESCO and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and we put our joint efforts to further strengthen UN’s role and practice in local governments and human rights, and the human rights city movement, while supporting and recognizing the important role that cities can play in the efforts of the UN Secretary General to develop a new social contract that create equal opportunities for all and respect the rights and freedoms of all.
  2. We repeatedly support UN Human Rights Council’s resolution for the implementation of sustainable development goals 2030 and its exhortation for the human rights role of local governments in infectious disease situation, and at the same time we promote and work for practice at the level of national and local governments.
  3. We support the local governments’ efforts to protect citizens’ human rights to be free from diseases, exclusion, deprivation, and infringement conceived from threats to the human being by climate crisis and infectious disease.
  4. We begin specific and concrete discussion to realize collaboration for network activation, human rights education, and human rights policy implementation, proposed by the ‘Agendas of Gwangju Human Rights City 2030’.
  5. We recognize that the history and memories of each human rights city are cultural and social assets to develop a human rights city, and we endeavor to share the history and memories among human rights cities.

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