The 10th of December annually marks International Human Rights Day. Since 1948, for more than seven decades now, this date serves as a worldwide demand for the human’s rights protections across the world.
As we observe it this year amidst a pandemic, it ought to serve as an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-shaping the world we want, the substantial need for more inclusion and solidarity as well as a unique chance to stand united and not surrounded to this common challenge we are facing.
Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day was established in 1948, in the day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
This document proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Starting from the most crucial human needs such as water, shelter, food, to the right to free information. UDHR is the most translated document in the world- available in more than 500 languages.
Some other human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.
Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
2020’s Theme: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights
Just like almost every aspect of our lives, this year’s theme is aligned to COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching implications. It focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.
United Nations acknowledges that we will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.
Under the generic call to action ‘Stand Up For Human rights’, the UN aims to engage the general public, their partners and the UN family to bolster transformative action and showcase practical and inspirational examples that can contribute to recovering better and fostering more resilient and just societies.
The worldwide crisis caused due to the COVID-19 has been rising existing inequalities, rising new inequalities, deepening poverty, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection.
We cannot aim to fill these gaps, or advance human rights without having a human-approach in our minds and in the very centre of our action, response toward COVID-19 and of the post-COVID-19 world we will live in.
These are few measures to close these gaps, UN suggests:
- End discrimination of any kind: Structural discrimination and racism have fuelled the COVID-19 crisis. Equality and non-discrimination are core requirements for a post-COVID world.
- Address inequalities: To recover from the crisis, we must also address the inequality pandemic. For that, we need to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights. We need a new social contract for a new era.
- Encourage participation and solidarity: We are all in this together. From individuals to governments, from civil society and grass-roots communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We need to ensure the voices of the most affected and vulnerable inform the recovery efforts.
- Promote sustainable development: We need sustainable development for people and the planet. Human rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the cornerstone of a recovery that leaves no one behind.
How Can We Celebrate?
You are never too small for a positive change, nor less important to join celebrations happening everywhere in honouring this movement. You can start simply by joining numerous online discussions and campaigns happening online, or by donating to your local organisation for charity.
Among crucial human rights we mentioned the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education.
We could add here many other rights we have agreed upon for centuries now, in one form or another, are counted among basic human rights. Nevertheless, as we thoughtfully discussed in a previous piece Is It About Time We Recognize Internet Access as a Human Right?, while society evolves and our living conditions improve, parallel with this, the concept of what is understood as a human right may expand.
Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney
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