The Secretary General’s declaration came during his address to the Council of Europe on 19 October to mark the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a wide ranging speech, the Secretary General said human rights “are not a menu from which we can pick and choose.”
The Council of Europe, he said, was the United Nations “key partner” in a “global quest, united behind the principle of all human rights for all people.”
The Secretary General recognised that “the rights of hundreds of millions of people are still ignored or abused” and praised the role of activists and communities who highlight these violations.
“Around the world, they stand up, speak out, tweet in the name of justice.”
In his address, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland stressed that the European Convention on Human Rights underscored a determination to “never again permit state sovereignty to be a shield for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”
The Secretary General said the “human rights machinery” ushered in by the convention was “unprecedented in the history of mankind.”
He said that although political, religious and sexual rights are now respected, a project of renewal was now necessary.
The challenge Europe now faced, the Secretary General declared, had moved from being “what happens between states to what happens within states.”
He added: “Our fight must be to deepen respect and tolerance based on free speech in society. The deeper this goes the deeper our security will be.”