It has been 69 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights on 10 December 1948. It is high time we realise that all human beings are entitled to protection from violation of their human rights and we need to extend this protection to the last individual. Every day should be celebrated as Human Rights Day.
On December 10, 2017, we celebrate the World Human Rights Day. Universal suffrage, liberty, equality and equity, equal representation before law, right to education, access to information, the abolition of bonded labour, slavery and protection from human trafficking, and gender equality are only some of the examples of human rights. We have come far but there is a great deal left to do. Several new challenges have cropped up to universal principles of human rights. Several violations have already been committed in the past when the human rights commissions and governments across the world failed to protect them.
Be it China’s authoritarian pushback against human rights in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the manipulation of basic freedom in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the introduction of Sharia law in Brunei, Myanmar’s military’s ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, or rising conservatism with regard to gay rights in Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, India, or Saudi Arabia- one of the most systematic abusers of human rights, especially of women’s rights of equality of status. Even the United States, who once used to be the champion of world peace and liberal democratic values, is not far behind in violating the basic principles of human rights, as can be seen in various cases like Guantanamo, torture of so-called ‘al-Qaeda suspects’, drone programmes or ‘democratic’ invasion in Iraq. The rise of right-wing extremism in Europe, North America and East and South East Asia make the defenders of human rights all the more sceptical.
The language of human rights is slowly translating into a language of discrimination, authority, and resistance. We are nowhere close to achieving the socio-economic rights and now are also losing our grip on the civil and political aspects of human rights that once the world triumphed over. The human rights organisations, human rights commissions, non- profit and non-governmental organisations have to pull up their socks to enhance people-to-people contact on the vitality of human rights across the world. Moreover, we as human beings need to rise above petty partisan interests and majoritarian politics and strive towards a more unified, global outlook becoming ‘world-citizens’ who are patrons of liberal and secular ideas.
Feature Image Credits: The Atlantic