[JURIST] UN Secretary-General António Guterres [official website] urged [UN News Centre report] member states of the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to defend human rights in response to the global rise in populism and extremism on Monday. Guterres stated that “[d]isregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading.” Guterres insisted on the vigilance of member states in defending the rights of their citizens as the recent rise in populism, he claims [UN report], has increased “racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance.” Guterres referenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text, PDF] and urged the Council to address all instances of systemic violations of the Declaration and other international humanitarian laws. Guterres also addressed the treatment of and global sentiment towards refugees, stating that member states must do the “utmost to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime.” Most of Guterres’ remarks were echoed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile], who also stated that the Council would not stand idle in the face of rising human rights concerns.
The international community has recently witnessed a rise in populist movements. In June a majority of British citizens voted for a referendum to leave the EU [JURIST report] amid growing concern over the EU’s immigration policy and its impact on the UK. In November 2016, Donald Trump was elected US president [NYT report] after a controversial campaign which made use of anti-immigration and what many perceived to be anti-Muslim sentiments. In France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, who has been gaining support [NPR report] in the French presidential elections, has been campaigning on an anti-immigration, pro-economic isolationist platform that has been likened to the sentiments of the Trump and Brexit campaigns. In January Transparency International advised [JURIST report] that there is a global populist movement which links both social inequality and corruption that is nativist and often politically right-wing.