Human Rights: Raise Awareness
In 1948 the United Nations wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that established international standards to help nations educate their citizens about the rights and freedoms they are entitled to in their daily lives. Despite this effort, human rights violations still occur around the world.
Human Rights in the 21st Century
Human rights define our quality and way of life. We must remain alert and committed to making them a reality for all people in the world. In order to do so, we must first understand what basic human rights are as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1948 the United Nations wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that established international standards to help nations educate their citizens about the rights and freedoms they are entitled to in their daily lives.
Despite this effort to guarantee universal rights for all human beings, human rights violations still occur around the world. Today, the challenge for all of us is to fulfill the promise of the Universal Declaration for our generation and tomorrow's.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created for "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" (UDHR, Preamble). The declaration contains 30 Articles that define the breadth and depth of human rights for the twentieth century and beyond.
The Declaration states that, "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights...everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, birth, status, political or other opinion, property or religion." The Article includes the right to life, equality and expression of opinion.
Poverty, disease, war and discrimination are among the many causes of human rights violations, but the most common factor is poverty. People who live in poverty are most vulnerable to human rights violations because of their lack of access to education about these rights and their lack of power to take action when a violation is committed.
In 2001, a World Bank survey estimated that 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day, which is close to half the world's population. Over 1.1 billion people - 1 in 6 people around the world - live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1 a day. These individuals are deprived of their basic human right to live in dignity and equality. Without access to vital resources such as food and education, this large population continues to suffer in living conditions that restrict their potential and development.
The United Nations developed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 in order to create time-bound targets and measurable goals to fight poverty, which are hoped to be achieved by 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals are meant to provide concrete ways to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; address several issues that impact human rights (extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, HIV/AIDS, gender equality); and develop international partnerships for development. Each of these goals influences the expression and experience of human rights across cultures, countries and generations.
The promise of the Declaration depends on the committment of individuals, communities and countries to forge a common understanding of human rights among governments and their citizens to reaffirm these values of human dignity and equality for generations to come.
The United Nations bureau of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) oversees human rights globally. Its mission is to protect the human rights of all people, educate all people about their rights, and help governments achieve basic human rights for all.
Every country in the world is in violation of at least some Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so in addition to the OHCHR, many other organizations take action to protest the governments of countries that are violating International Human Rights Law.
Now's your chance to get involved in the fight to ensure human rights for all.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Link to Human Rights Watch: Global Issues
The Child's Rights Information Network
The International Rescue Committee
United Nations Foundation
International Center for Transitional Justice
Coalition for the International Criminal Court
The Fund for Global Human Rights
Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative
The United Nations
The World Bank
Human Rights Watch