On this day in 1948 the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was adopted in the aftermath of the atrocities of World War II, with the utopian vision of a more peaceful and tolerant world as its aim.
Yet across the globe, human rights are under threat. Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering America. Russia has passed a law to overrule the European Court of Human Rights; organisations in Cambodia have had to cancel human rights day; bloggers are awaiting lashings and women stoning to death for adultery in Saudi Arabia; the refugee crisis continues; and the UK government talks of repealing the Human Rights Act.
Amidst the sadness and fear we have all felt recently, from the Paris attacks, to the death toll in Syria, and the debate over whether to bomb, today is a day to think about why human rights matter, and why we here in the UK need to know, understand, and protect our rights.
7 things you can do on human rights day
1. Listen to Jan’s story
“I didn’t know I was going to need it….nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s for all of us”
Jan has MS and was badly treated by her carers. Here she describes how the Human Rights Act helped her regain her dignity.
2. Hear Mark talk about his son Stephen
“The essence of human rights [is] where we live, who we choose to live our lives with…fundamental stuff”
Mark used human rights to bring his autistic son home after the council wrongly took him away
3. Find out more about Charles
“What’s this one’s name?”
Charles lives in a care home, where he is often ignored, dressed in someone else’s clothes, by carers who don’t even know his name
4. Buy ‘My Little Book of Big Freedoms’
5. Hear Matt and Martina talk about their daughter, Kesia
“It’s so horrific, that you don’t ever wish anybody to go through that”
No-one listened when Matt and Martina said their daughter was mentally ill. Then Kesia killed herself
6. Find out more about human rights
7. Get involved with a local human rights organisation