The two key United Nations Human Rights Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, will be 50 years old in December 2016. To commemorate this occasion, the German Institute for Human Rights, together with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Forum Menschenrechte, a network of German NGOs committed to the more comprehensive protection of human rights, hosted a conference on "50 Years of the UN Human Rights Covenants" held at the Federal Foreign Office on 6 October 2016. During the closing panel discussion on the implementation of the United Nations Human Rights Covenants and the challenges for German policy-makers, State Secretary Yasmin Fahimi made the following statement:
The United Nations Human Rights Covenants are an expression of the international community’s commitment to universal values. We must make every effort to implement and enforce them.
State Secretary Fahimi also underlined Germany’s special role:
Germany must remain a driving force behind progress in terms of human rights. She went on to say that given the high number of refugees, Germany had mastered the current challenges very well, adding with regard to the recent racist attacks, that there were legitimate concerns whether the mood in the country was shifting. At the beginning of the evening event, Germany’s Federal Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sounded a warning and called for action to ensure that the milestones of human rights achieved over the last five decades not be called into question today, given that at the current time, more than 60 million people in the world have fled their homes.