By Madi Jobarteh Yesterday December 10 marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948 hence International Human Rights Day. The theme for this year is ‘Stand Up For Human Rights’. This is indeed a deep, urgent, relevant and all-encompassing as it speaks to the heart of human rights enjoyment and protection. Human rights are entitlements that human beings have just because we are being human beings. These rights are sometimes derived from our nature as human beings and at other times they are conferred on us by law because we are citizens of a particular country, age, sex, disability or other status. In any case we enjoy all these rights simply because we are human beings. Ultimately, the goal of human rights is to ensure that human beings enjoy dignity in their lives, homes, work places and in any part of society and the world. Human rights provide us security and comfort in that it prevents or protects us from abuse, discrimination, violence and exclusion in any form anywhere. Human rights empower, enable and guarantee access to opportunities, services, facilities and tools with which we can obtain capabilities and resources to participate, influence, demand and acquire the highest standard of living. Without human rights there cannot be sustainable development. Standing up for human rights therefore is the best position one can take if one is interested in the security, progress and liberty of oneself and the entire society at the same time. Human rights are meaningless if we do not respect them because it means we can violate them with impunity. In any society where one right is broken, and it is not repaired immediately and in full, then no one is safe again in that society. It is for this reason that all human beings must stand up for human rights. There is no power or weapon on earth that can protect human beings forever and consistently in any society other than the respect for human rights. No army or government or wealth or position can offer lasting personal security and durable development in the absence of protection of human rights. From the Second World War to the Korean to the Vietnam War to Apartheid in South Africa to military rule in South America of the past to the present war in Syria, Yemen, Congo as well as the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel – all indicate the disregard of human rights hence gross violations and widespread insecurity. One violation of a right triggers the violation of other rights hence the eruption of violence and abuse. The incidence of terrorism, irregular migration and climate change are all manifestations of the disregard of human rights by governments, organizations, companies, individuals and groups. Human rights are not only about civil and political rights, i.e. to right to free opinion and expression or the right to vote or freedom of assembly among others. But where a citizen dies from a preventable disease or a mother dies in giving birth to a child because of poor healthcare or a child can’t go to school or only obtains poor quality education – all indicate disregard of human rights. Where communities lack basic necessities of life while public officials continue to fatten themselves with public resources while the private sector engages in unethical business practices, it shows disregard of human rights. When an elected official refuse to be held accountable or when poverty and deprivation are present in a society at whatever degree know that there are human rights abuses in that society. Hence to prevent conflicts, poverty, insecurity and exclusion all human beings must stand up for human rights. When we stand up for human rights, we protect ourselves first and foremost. It does not matter whether you live in a small village or work in a big company or if you are at home or in the street or traveling across borders, by standing up for human rights we guarantee security and dignity for all and ourselves. When we stand up for human rights, we assure ourselves of a predictable, safe and prosperous life and future for all. Every human being must therefore be a human rights defender or a human rights activist. Every human being must be intolerant and impatient with poverty, deprivation, inequality, injustice, discrimination and exclusion in your society and around the world. If you are, then you are a human rights defender. By standing up for human rights you are therefore saving your own life and the lives of members of your family, friends, colleagues and society as a whole. #StandUp4HumanRights. Today and Forever!]]>
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