Being Who We Are


How important is it to you to be able to be and think and believe in freedom and safety?
How important is it to our societies to afford citizens these rights?
What happens when these freedoms are denied and meet with punishment and even torture?
How does this oppression curtail our development as societies?
As people?

How commonly are these rights withheld?

Slavery is Alive and Well…


               Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms

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http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/2-4-million-victims-of-human-trafficking-worldwide-says-un

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/9185811/2.4-million-victims-of-human-trafficking-worldwide-says-UN.html

As We Agreed Earlier*


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 Article 2 

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

*1949 to be exact

A Good Start is Half the Work


In the wake of WWII, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by nine people from around the world. On December 10, 1948, the the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Eight nations abstained from the vote but none actively disagreed.

Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, a member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote about this occasion:

“I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality.  In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”

This is the first time in human history that we all officially agreed that all human beings are entitled to basic rights, simply by virtue of being alive.

In Irish there is an expression – “Tus maith, leath na hoibre,”  which translates as, “A good start is half the work.”

It was a good start.

                          Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Future is Made from Wishes


When I first saw this I didn’t think I’d post it as I have posted so much – so many links, so many articles, so many videos – on the importance of the education of girls and the development of women for the welfare of all human societies.  At this point even I am sick of hearing myself talk about this subject.

But I couldn’t talk myself out of posting this.  Please watch it.  It is so comprehensive and so complete that you’ll be glad you did watch it.

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The Roots of Rights


On December 10th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Nowadays, when we think of human rights, what exactly do we think?

Do we think that human rights are nothing to do with us?

That human rights are best left to activists?

Experts.

Professionals.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the UN Commission that wrote the UDHR, had a very different vision of human rights –

In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. 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.

Butterfly effects for human rights?

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Girl Power


Camfed – Campaign for Female Education – has discovered that poverty is the main obstacle to the education of girls.

Research shows that the consequences of not educating girls are not only felt by the individual girls but by the entire society.

If you educate a girl she’ll:

  • Earn up to 25 percent more and reinvest 90 percent in her family.
  • Be three times less likely to become HIV-positive.
  • Have fewer, healthier children who are 40 percent more likely to live past the age of five.

So it appears that if you educate girls then you not improve the quality of their lives but, it seems, you also improve the quality of everybody’s life.

Investing in girls and women is likely to prevent inter-generational cycles of poverty and yield high economic and societal returns – Ban K-Moon, United Nations Secretary General.

If we want a functional, happy, healthy world we need to find ways to unleash more girl power it seems…

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Related articles

Are Human Rights alright? Part 2



Many people throughout the world are still deprived of the most basic human rights.

They don’t have food, shelter, education, medical care, cultural, religious or gender equality.

Millions of people suffer violence, terror and intimidation and many of them – and indeed, many of us – have long since given up any hope of this changing.

On top of this lack of basic security and necessities – the whole area of human rights has also become a highly contentious arena. Some people claim that the notion of human rights, as we understand them, is a Western construct that shouldn’t be imposed on non-Western cultures. Others claim that criminals – and their lawyers – use the concept of human rights to escape punishment for wrong-doing.

And there is a certain amount of truth in both claims.

However, do these issues really negate the whole concept of universal human rights or are they just problems on the road to clarity?

It’s been almost sixty-three years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, and while this is a long time in an individual human life, in terms of human society it’s a relatively short time. Perhaps, then, the reason we are having so many problems – one way or another – with human rights – is that it’s an idea that’s really quite new to us? However, now that we’ve lived with the idea for sixty-three years, maybe we’re ready to really begin to make progress in this vital area of human existence?

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The Drafting Committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Top row, from left: Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon), Alexandre Bogomolov (USSR), Dr. Peng-chun Chang (China). Middle row, from left: René Cassin (France), Eleanor Roosevelt (US), Charles Dukes (United Kingdom). Bottom row, from left: William Hodgson (Australia), Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile), John P. Humphrey (Canada).

Are Human Rights alright? Part I


The recent riots in the UK have started a debate about the nature and scope of human rights. What exactly are they? Where did they come from? Who has them? Who doesn’t have them?  Should everyone have them? And – last but not least – what are the main problems surrounding them? It’s a tricky question but one so fundamental to functional human societies that we can’t afford to ignore it.

So, OK – what exactly are human rights?

Most of us believe that there are basic rights – sometimes called natural rights – that exist above and beyond culture or legal structures. Technically speaking a right is (amongst other things):

  • Inalienable – it can’t be taken away or given away.
  • Immutable – it doesn’t change.
  • Inviolable – it shouldn’t be broken, infringed or dishonoured.

Down through the ages all religious scripture, and many philosophers, have sought to define moral codes of conduct to promote this idea of natural rights. Some ancient cultures attempted to enshrine a notion of human rights in their constitutions and governments and, from time to time, ordinary people rose up and demanded to be given ‘rights’.

From the 17th century onwards, the idea of rights gained popular acceptance in various revolutions such as the Glorious Revolution in England (1688), the American Revolution (1776) and, most famously of all in terms of the idea of rights, the French Revolution in 1789.

All of these popular movements demanded rights, however, these rights were not universal – these were rights for some of the population not all of the population, as was demonstrated most obviously by the fact that women were excluded and slavery was allowed.

In the wake of WWII, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by nine people from around the world. On December 10, 1948, the the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting.

Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, a member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote about this occasion:

“I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality.  In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”

This is the first time in human history that we all officially agreed – at least in theory – that universal human rights exist for everybody, everywhere, all of the time.

It was a start.

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