December 10, 2009

Of Anniversaries and the Rights of Man

This blog turns one year old today. It began out of frustration. I enjoy writing, and was encouraged to submit some of what I’d penned for publication. Never got a bite, so with further encouragement I turned to blogging. Reading back on my own missives I think maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick on the trigger, but I still like the first piece I published.

My first piece was a memorial to the human rights movement, and a tip of the hat to those who have fought for what I called (with apologies to Thomas Paine) “The Rights of Man”. The post was timed to coincide with 60th anniversary of United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10, better known as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So today is the resolution’s 61st.

Today is International Human Rights Day. The United Nations officially came into existence at the end of World War II, on October 24, 1945, with a mission to preserve world peace and security; develop friendly relations between nations; work toward solving world economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems; and to protect and promote respect for human rights and freedoms.

The UN’s definition of human rights is “those rights which are inherent in our nature and without which we cannot live as human beings.” “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” These is the first statement found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe. Americans take our inherent rights for granted, but many in the world continue to have what we consider basic denied. In the 1948 Declaration, the UN listed the basic human rights:

1. Right to life and liberty

2. Right to freedom of movement

3. Right to equality before the law

4. Freedom of opinion and expression

5. Freedom of assembly and association

6. Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

7. Right to be recognized as a person before the law

8. Right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty

9. Right to appeal a conviction

10. Freedom of choice in whom a person marries

11. Freedom from discrimination based upon race, sex, color, national origin, or language

12. Right to self-determination

13. Right to wages sufficient to support a minimum standard of living

14. Right to equal opportunity for advancement

15. Right to equal pay for equal work

16. Right to paid or otherwise compensated maternity leave

17. Right to form unions

18. Right to strike

19. Right to free primary education

20. Right to accessible education at all levels

21. Freedom from exploitation of children

The list of human rights originally enumerated in 1948 have been expanded over the last three-score years, and now includes new issues, such as a nation’s right to develop; capital punishment; children in armed conflicts; compensation of victims; disability; expanded discrimination based on HIV or AIDS; enforced or involuntary disappearances; environment; impunity; indigenous peoples; migrant workers; peacekeeping operations; the sale of children, terrorism; and war crimes.

TRIVIA: The UN recognizes six official languages. Do you know what they are? (answer at the end)

The first UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights was awarded in 1968, posthumously to American human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt, who was active in the formation of numerous institutions—most notably the UN, the United Nations Association and Freedom House. She chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

There were 48 original members of the UN, and the vote on the Declaration of Human Rights was 48-0. There are 192 member nations today, and one must wonder, if the same resolution were voted on today… just how much consensus we would find. So we can debate the effectiveness of the UN, but the founding goals were admirable.

This year marks the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. The theme for International Human Rights Day 2009 is “Embrace Diversity; End Discrimination.” Human Rights Day this year will focus on non-discrimination.

Discrimination lies at the root of many of the world’s most pressing human rights problems. No country is immune from this scourge. Eliminating discrimination is a duty of the highest order.” Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Another admirable goal…


United Nations 24-Hour ‘Hot Line’ for Reporting Human Rights Violations

A Summary of United Nations Agreements on Human Rights

Human Rights Watch

About UNICEF: Who We Are

Bill of Rights Day

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

United Nations Fact Sheet on Human Rights

The United Nations and Human Rights

United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights: Background

The six official languages of the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish



Ambulance Driver said...

Happy blogiversary, brother.

Lockwood said...

Happy Blogoversary, MB! Here's wishing you many more!

Anonymous said...

Again, congratulations for your anniversary. Reading your site has been a pleasure and I hope you continue. I've also been impressed with the quality of the comments your posts have prompted. That you have attracted such a readership must mean you're doing something right.
Best wishes for the holidays and the new year!

Mikee said...

How many people speak Russian or French compared to, say, Urdu? When an organization is set up to allow corruption and imperialism, under the guise of seeking peace and justice, it is to laff.