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Today is Human Rights Day

December 10, 2009

Human Rights Day is celebrated worldwide on December 10 of every year. The date was chosen to honor the UN General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on Dec. 10, 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights.

Fun Fact: The UDHR holds the world record for the most translated document (with more than 360 language versions available)!

Have you read the UDHR? It essentially states that every person, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politics, etc. – has certain basic rights. Basic human rights aren’t usually on the forefront of most Americans’ minds because for the most part, we enjoy them to the point of taking them for granted. I myself had never read the declaration in full, and found it enlightening. While many of the 30 articles of the UDHR are unsurprising – such as life, liberty, security, equality before the law, privacy, property ownership, freedom of religion, expression, assembly, etc. – there were some that made me stop and ponder. For example, the rights to:

  • Consensual marriage
  • Employment, and to just and favorable employment conditions
  • Rest and leisure
  • Standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care
  • Free education
  • Cultural life, including the arts

Have you ever thought of these as basic human rights? Personally, I used to think of rest/leisure and cultural life more as privileges than rights, at least for me. Then again, I spend a lot of time engaged in sports, exercise, reading, and talking with friends. And when I don’t have time for those things, I get sullen and cranky. To think that so many people in this world are deprived of these things that it called for an official declaration of their rights to them, is incredible.

So what do we do about it? If I knew, I’d be very rich and powerful. But here are some Web sites I found that provide a few tips for things we might do today to help move our world closer to the achievement of these basic human rights. On top of these tips I’d like to add a little something: Be grateful. For being an American; for having the time to read blogs like Why We Run; for being able to take time for running and leisure; for not having to go through life in the absence of these rights.

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign

YouTube’s Video Volunteers

Great post on BlogHer

United Nations’ Human Rights Day site

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