Stand up for someone’s rights on Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10th December. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Conflicts and deprivation are forcing families from their homes. Climate change darkens our horizons – and everywhere, it seems, anxieties are deepening. Humane values are under attack, and we feel overwhelmed – unsure what to do or where to turn.

Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. They are spread by people who seek power, deploying twisted logic and false promises, and fabricating outright lies. Their narratives speak to selfishness, separatism – a distorting, narrow view of the world. Little by little, this toxic tide of hatred is rising around us, and the deep and vital principles that safeguard peaceful societies risk being swept away.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that every person in the world should have. There are two main types of human rights – civil and political rights, and social, cultural and economic rights.

How you can make a stand for human rights

We must draw the line – and we can. There is another way. It starts with all of us taking practical steps to reaffirm our common humanity.

Help break the toxic patterns of a fearful world and embark on a more peaceful, more sustainable future. We don’t have to stand by while the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities – we can build bridges.

Wherever we are, we can make a real difference:

  • in the street,
  • in school,
  • at work,
  • in public transport;
  • in the voting booth,
  • on social media,
  • at home, and
  • on the sports field.

Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone’s right to live free from fear and abuse. We can raise our voices for decent values. We can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity.

The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. Local actions can add up to a global movement. Together, we can take a stand for more humanity.

It starts with each of us.

Stand up for someone’s rights today.

Stand up for someone's rights today: Human Rights Day 2016.

Sources: United Nations Office for Human Rights, and NZ Human Rights Commission websites.

Published on Monday, November 28th, 2016, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 12/12/2016

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