Every year, World Rights Day is celebrated on 10th December. To highlight this momentous event, let’s take a moment to think what it means for us and our community.
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This amazing document proclaims and highlights the rights that every human being, regardless of race or sex is entitled to, on World Rights Day and every day. That includes you, me and every person that is in our lives.
Each year, a theme around the area of Human Rights is focused on. Not surprisingly, in 2021 the focus is on ensuring that Human rights are central to the recovery building efforts after the devastating effect of COVID-19.
The current crisis is highlighting deepening poverty in pockets of the world. Inequality is continuing to rise unless a light is shone upon these areas and made a statement of. Continuing efforts to close these gaps will then cause a chain reaction in aiding building back a world that has more structure in place and less inequality. Where do you live? What do you see of inequality in your every day life?
COVID-19 is not discriminatory. No matter your age, sex, race, class or sexual orientation, we are all vulnerable. Which allows a chance for Governments and scientists all over the world to ignore discriminations and focus on a solution for all. Every person in the world should be awarded equal worth and dignity and should benefit from the solutions designed by few and meant for many.
Do you know your Human Rights?
Human Rights are the basic rights that should apply to you, me and every person in the world. In the UK, our Human Rights are protected by the Human Rights Act, 1998. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an amazing document, it is not legally binding across the world which is why in the UK we have the Human Rights Act. This includes rights such as:
- Right to life
- RIght to privacy
- RIght to freedom of religion or belief
World Rights across the world
I live in the UK and I feel privileged for this. My human rights, I see as standard and a God-given right and my government agrees. As I also work in a school and have been designated a key-worker, I have been given a free flu-vaccination and will very soon be one of the first in the world to receive a free COVID vaccination. I walk around and know that I am safe. Going to work, I know I can exercise my rights. I am indeed blessed to be a single, working mother in this country.
My boyfriend, by contrast currently resides in Colombia. One current problem for this country is the number of Venezuelan exiles that have fled Venezuela due to human rights and the crisis there. 1.4 million people moved to Colombia between 2017 and 2019. Female based violence is another human rights area in Colombia that needs rectifying as it is widespread. Those who rape and abuse women are rarely held accountable. Unlike the UK, abortion is only legal if the health of the woman is at risk or if she has been raped. These issues only form a fraction of the human right infractions in this Latin American country. A beautiful exterior but troubled on the inside.
Human Rights tightrope
“We are walking a tightrope. We need to find the balance between saving lives from coronavirus, and allowing people the hard won freedoms that are the framework for those lives – such as a right to a private and family life, to freedom of assembly, and to an education. This must go hand in hand with an economic recovery that provides everyone with an adequate standard of living”.
Equality and Human Rights Commission Chief Executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath
I find that in England, Facebook and local communities are awash with complaints of government control, having to wear masks, schools closing and being told to limit their social contact. Murmurs of dissatisfaction abound and conspiracy theories are popular. I cannot quite understand this. We are privileged to live in a democracy and need to respect our chosen leaders and top health professionals who are risking financial devastation and popularity in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives. At ground zero, their focus is rightly on the human rights of the population and a fundamental right is that of good health.
World Rights Day – most important ‘rights’
People vary geographically for what they consider to be the most important human right. A survey by YouGov focused on seven European countries and the United States.
Right to freedom to vote and free speech
Five of the eight countries ranked the freedom to vote as the most important human right. The United States was free speech. This was the only right to receive more than 50% of votes from all countries.
Right to free school education and low cost healthcare
The right to free school education and low-cost healthcare were a priority in most countries but surprisingly the United States and France valued them lower than other countries.
World Rights Day – different cultures
The difference in opinion between different countries could be attributed to differences in history and cultures. I do wonder how the order of rights considered the most important would alter if Latin America, Asia and Africa were included. As poorer countries, some without a good standard of free education and healthcare, I feel their priorities would revolve around the freedom to vote, free education and healthcare. The more that is readily accessible in a country and culture, the more your priorities and expectations change.
Whichever human right you personally view as the most important, in a time of a pandemic the WHO recognizes that restrictions on some rights are strictly necessary if they are backed by medical evidence. As long as they are respectful of human dignity and non-discriminatory they are justifiable. With a reference to social media, currently Facebook are removing posts that relate to COVID 19 but are in some way inflammatory or seen as a false claim. Some would view it as a restriction of their right to freedom of speech, some would realize that in a time of panic there is no need to fuel the fire.
Human rights for families
For families, the long term effect for their children will be that of education and subsequently jobs. Personally, I feel I have been extremely fortunate in this category. My son has a tutor and I worked from home for a majority of the lock down. A strict routine for both of us and knowledge of the curriculum meant he actually prospered during this period. However, that was not the case for many.
We live in Surrey, a rich county just outside London yet there are always pockets of poor areas. Plenty of children did no school work whilst at home, parents either at work or not able to help. Local government initiatives like free laptops for schools are amazing but unfortunately came rather late. Consequently, many schools are now trying to bridge a rather large gap in knowledge. The effect of this will not be seen for a long time but are being felt by children the world over.
World Rights Day in 2021
So on this day, let us take a moment to think about the human rights of people across the world. We are all in this pandemic together which should unite us but due to prejudice, corruption and poverty some are affected more than others. When posting on social media, take a moment to think whether your message is inflammatory. If you live in the UK and receive your invitation to have a free vaccination, pause to think of those in poorer countries who will not have this luxury. As Christmas approaches and you are at the supermarket, contribute to the food bank for the homeless. Lets open our minds and hearts and be grateful for what we have in our lives.
I know I am