A Focus on Human Rights

A Focus on Human Rights

August 10, 2014
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“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity” – Nelson Mandela

Human Rights means something different to everyone, depending on their background, life experiences and passions. A teacher might believe that higher education is a fundamental right; something societies should guarantee as an option for all their young citizens, while someone from a different culture or religion might believe that young girls should leave school to be married. Deciding what is “right” is a complex issue, particularly in cases when culture differences are such a huge factor. The United Nations Universal Declarations of Human Rights aims to be exactly that – universal. While there are still some contestations among different cultures, there are many rights we should all agree on. A few examples would be:

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 25: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing.

Article 26: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.

If we break these articles down into simper terms, they say that we all have the right to equality and freedom of choice, and to be free of any type of discrimination, torture or cruelty. Children should have education and literacy to grow into adults with opportunities. We all have the right to live a life that means we are healthy and happy.

The extremely sad fact is that having this “right” does not at all guarantee its fruition. The majority of people in this world do not have access to the basic necessities for a healthy and happy life. Things we take for granted, such as clean water, food, shelter and security, are luxuries many people could only dream of. While it seems like an overwhelmingly difficult problem to address, the key is in starting out small.

The smallest change can make a huge impact.

Some eye opening facts:

  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent on weapons every year was all that was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000. This was not achieved.
  • The world’s 500 richest people have a combined income greater than the world’s 416 million poorest people.
  • If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

 

Above information has been derived from the following sources:

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

http://www.unesco.org/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/GMR/pdf/gmr2010/MDG-book1.pdf

Written by Kate Rizzo & Gabi Brand


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