December 10th is Human Rights Day, as you may know. This year marked the 20-year anniversary of the creation of the annual event by the UN. I took some time to reflect upon the past 20 years of human rights around the world. While history has come a long way, with less war and poverty than ever before, there are still great challenges facing us as a species on this planet.
Human Rights Day was born out of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the product of a committee meeting in Vienna in 1993. The document affirms that human rights are an essential priority for the international community. It then lists various pledges that countries can keep in mind as we work together to eradicate obstacles facing us in this arena.
The first item on this list is worth repeating:
Recognizing and affirming that all human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person, and that the human person is the central subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and consequently should be the principal beneficiary and should participate actively in the realization of these rights and freedoms,
This is just a beautiful statement that I am behind 100%. Dignity and worth are inherent in all people. But the statement is also a call to action, that all people must be active participants in seeking the full realization of this across our societies. While the majority of my active work is now probably behind me, I look to young people to grasp the baton and run with it themselves. Human rights are something worth fighting for, even in this country, where there is more of a bounty of human rights than in some other parts of the world.
Please also take a moment to reflect on this day, and think about the extreme hardships being experienced around the world.