We are all born free and equal. The power, openness, oneness, and grace of this statement is almost palpable, isn’t it? The truth carries a wave of energy that’s solid yet weightless. The aforementioned equalizer is the first right listed on the Declaration of Human Rights, which was created in 1948. Twenty-nine additional, interdependent freedoms and rights stem from this truism. However, as logical and forthright as they seem written in black and white, these freedoms—inherent to all humans irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, ethnicity, color, religion or language— are often relentlessly buried or ignored. That’s why we have days like today, Human Rights Day.
As a firm believer that every day should be Human Rights Day and that the number of special cause-focused and cat-focused and favorite food-focused days is getting out of hand in Western society, I’d give up all other days to call attention to this one on a regular basis.
Why? Considering the socio-economic issues the US is currently facing, the growth of the surveillance state, the militarization of law enforcement, the homeless and gender injustice, the lack of access to affordable education, and news of Donald trump wanting to close American borders to muslims, we as a country have a lot of work to do regarding human rights.
This year Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights, which include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Together the two Covenants and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights form the International Bill of Human Rights. How much has changed in 50 years?
Here’s a video refresher on each of the rights to help you determine where we need the most improvement.
Here are some of our favorite tools aiding human rights education.
Amnesty International Citizen Evidence Lab
Amnesty International has created a toolkit for turning citizen media into citizen evidence. While eyewitness accounts have become crucial for journalists today, they often fail to have an impact because they lack legitimacy. Users of this platform can learn techniques for tagging videos, find resources for verification, and read about the triumphs made possible through eyewitness accounts in the Citizen Evidence Lab.
Youth for Human Rights Online Education
The Youth for Human Rights Online Education iPad application engages elementary, middle and high school students in human rights topics, and provides opportunities to put human rights principles into action. The app features a full interactive classroom environment built to facilitate several learning environments, while providing educational tools for both teachers and students.
UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This app was created to educate every human being about their human rights in as many native languages as possible (300+). The creator developed the tool as a volunteer of YHRI, Youth for Human Rights, an International nonprofit organization that educates young people on human rights using UDHR articles from around the world.
What tools are you seeing advance human rights today?