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70 Years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – Hope Against Hope

70 Years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – Hope Against Hope
Help, Armed Conflicts, Crime & Justice, Democracy, Power, Featured, Meals & Agriculture, International, Globalisation, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Inequity, Migration & Refugees, Peace, Faith, TerraViva United Nations


GENEVA, Dec 10 2018 (IPS) – “Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children under five have died in Yemen from untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018.”

“The grim analysis of United Nations data comes as intense fighting has again erupted in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah.”

In the meantime, the UN considers Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian disaster and warns that with out an finish to the preventing, the nation, during which greater than half the inhabitants is already liable to famine, faces the worst famine in many years.

Such have been the headlines day after day since the begin of the conflict in Yemen in 2015. The tragedy is that statistics, coupled with the sensationalism of stories, swiftly lose their influence. We develop into inured to the human disaster unfolding earlier than our eyes as we flip the pages of our newspapers or flick channels on our tv units looking for one thing much less distressing (OR much less demanding).

This yr sees the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, proclaimed in Paris by the United Nations Basic Meeting on the 10th December 1948. Following the unmitigated horrors of the Second World Struggle, it was a milestone in the historical past of human rights. But, seventy years on, the river of human historical past continues to be poisoned by injustice, hunger, displacement, worry, instability, uncertainties and politicised sectarian and ethnic divisions.

At present it appears we’re shifting additional away from the idea of Universal rights, in favour of my rights, even when at the expense of yours (though the different could also be you your self), with a callous disregard for the Declaration’s two key moral issues: a dedication to the inherent dignity of each human being and a dedication to non-discrimination.

The schisms in the world at the moment have turn into so quite a few, the inequities so stark, that a common respect for human dignity is one thing that have to be introduced again to the consciousness of the worldwide group.

Recognition of faith and particular person cultural identities are an important a part of the combine. In contrast to citizenship – the authorized membership of a sovereign state or nation, id encompasses the totality of how one construes oneself, together with these dimensions that categorical continuity with previous ancestry and future aspirations, and implies affinity with sure teams and the recognition of widespread ties. In short, it calls for the recognition of the totality of the self, of 1’s human dignity, regardless of background, ethnicity or monetary clout. A name to be empowered to fulfil one’s potential, with out kowtowing to a social assemble or relinquishing any a part of one’s heritage.

We must be proactive in addressing the rising international starvation for human dignity for it goes to the very coronary heart of human id and the polarity / plurality divide, and with out it, all the protections of the numerous authorized human rights mechanisms turn into meaningless.

We have now gone from a world of symmetries and political and army blocs, to a state of affairs of fearful asymmetries and violent, armed non-state actors.

The polarity of hatred amongst individuals is corrosive, not solely in the Mashreq/Levant, however throughout the globe. The retrenchment into smaller and smaller identities is one in every of the most putting paradoxes of globalisation. Binary fallacies lead nations to lifeless ends; to zero sum video games.

Cross border themes of as we speak, water, power and human dignity, have to be mentioned at a regional degree, as a artistic widespread, quite than nation by nation. The neglect of those themes has meant that the West Asia space has turn out to be a breeding floor for rogue and extremist actors. The complicated dynamics amongst the three biggest forces shaping our planet – man, nature, know-how – require an entire new outlook. But there isn’t any have to reinvent the wheel.

In drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its proponents [OR the drafting committee] sought to underpin a shared ideally suited, a standard commonplace for all peoples and all nations, a code of conduct of rights and obligations if you’ll.

I ought to wish to pay tribute to my late mother-in-law, the Begum Shaista Ikramullah. When she, the first Muslim Indian (as she then was) lady to realize a PhD from the College of London, working in 1948 with Eleanor Roosevelt on the Declaration of Human Rights and Conference Against Genocide, declared:

It’s crucial that there be an accepted code of civilized behaviour.

Including later:

The concepts emphasised in the [Declaration] are removed from being realized, however there’s a objective which those that consider in the freedom of the human spirit can attempt to attain.

Up to now we now have fallen far brief. Nonetheless the UDHR, not solely offered the first step in the direction of the creation of the Worldwide Invoice of Human Rights (accomplished 1966, got here into impact 1976), however gave rise to quite a few conventions and worldwide agreements which ought to give us trigger for hope. I want to point out however a couple of.

Of private curiosity is the 1948 Conference for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was labored on and signed by the late Begum Ikramullah. She strongly supported the work of Professor Raphael Lemkin who misplaced 24 members of his household in the Holocaust. Raphael Lemkin outlined genocide as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves“.

Some years later, the Helsinki Final Act (1975) “provided a basis for creating conditions favourable to peace in Europe and made human rights a common value to be respected by all nations in a world which was divided into East and West camps in that period”. It gave rise to the Helsinki Residents’ Meeting, a non-governmental organisation of individuals in Europe, devoted to the promotion of elementary rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism and to our personal Center East Residents’ Meeting.

Extra lately I had the honour to serve on the Fee on Authorized Empowerment of the Poor, whose elementary function was to empower these dwelling in poverty by way of elevated protections and rights – thereby addressing concurrently, exclusion, lack of dignity, and the hyperlink between poverty and lack of entry to the regulation.

The essential premise of its report (revealed in 2008) was that the regulation ought to work for everybody, and included as a key underpinning, state/governmental funding in the circumstances of labour.

Regardless of these constructive steps, the three primary challenges recognized by the Unbiased Fee on Worldwide Humanitarian Points (ICIHI): man towards man, man towards nature and man-made disasters, summarised in the title of our report: Profitable the Human Race? proceed to prevail (OR there’s a lot rather more to be executed.)

In a world the place almost one individual is forcibly displaced each two seconds because of battle or persecution, and the place 85% of the worlds’ displaced are being hosted by creating nations, ill-equipped to take action, of which Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan and Lebanon are in the forefront and during which 15% of all mankind reside in areas considerably euphemistically described as ‘fragile states’, the ethical foyer that’s nonetheless robust throughout the world should act in cohesion. Collectively we should make sure that equal citizenship rights and human dignity are at the forefront of all improvement efforts. Additional that the shift in the direction of viewing human dignity as a person, and never collective attribute, is realised.

This implies putting human welfare firmly and definitively, at the centre of nationwide and worldwide policy-making.

We proceed to listen to of a safety order or an financial order, neither of which have succeeded in making a Universal order from which all of humanity advantages. In the face of this disharmonious logic, it’s time for an humanitarian order based mostly on the ethical and moral participation of the peoples of the world, in addition to an intimate understanding of human nature.

We’ve got, in the reviews talked about above and in different tasks, a well-honed device field of essential points and agendas which ought to type the multi-stakeholder platform of our dedication to the common beliefs all of us cherish. As with the UDHR, these studies are a clarion name to motion – it’s as much as us to make sure additionally they symbolize a continuation of imaginative considering for a universally useful artistic course of.

It’s time to take off the blinkers of considering solely of ourselves – of our tribe and of our nation towards all others – and think about how a lot may be achieved by drawing on the entire pool of our skills and assets to deal with widespread considerations on the foundation of our shared humanity. We’d like an inclusive strategy to assembly challenges, one which accounts for each the pure and the human surroundings. Solely thus can we attain the desired natural unity between man and nature and the ethics of common duty. This will likely sound idealistic; it’s, however whether or not we’re speaking about water shortage, meals safety, poverty, schooling, the capability for everybody to fulfil their potential, we have to focus on human dignity each in its ontological dimension by advantage of our very humanity and in its operative dimension as enhanced by our self-accomplishment.

We weren’t put on this earth to go forth and multiply, desecrate and destroy, however to convey life in addition to hope for future generations.


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