How important are human rights? Long before the phrase “human rights” came into existence, men and women fought and died for basic human freedoms. In fact, this struggle has lasted thousands of years and still continues today.
Ultimately, human rights are the basis of everything people cherish about their way of life. In their absence, lasting happiness is impossible, because there is no personal security, no freedom and no opportunity. Thus, all peoples have long recognized their fundamental importance and have sought to articulate and defend them.
Yet it took a world war and the deaths of tens of millions of people to bring the leading nations together to create a truly universal charter of rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the world’s premier human rights instrument. Its opening paragraph stands as a powerful affirmation of the principles that lie at the heart of the modern human rights system: “Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
The grim reality, however, is that in virtually every country of Earth, some portion of the population is a victim of torture, human trafficking, starvation, injustice, discrimination or other human rights abuses.
It goes back to the underlying problem—most people are largely unaware of the Declaration of Human Rights and the thirty rights it contains. Consequently, a wide gap exists between the articulation of the Declaration’s goals and their accomplishment. Millions are not free. Justice is often inequitable. And peace continues to elude many regions of the world.
Bridging the enormous gulf between the ideal of universal human rights and the reality of widespread human rights violations is the challenge.
By implementing the free Educator’s Guide, DVDs and booklets, and including human rights education in their curricula, educators can do much to realize human rights.
Law enforcement personnel, judicial officials, and those who mentor young people should also study these educational materials, and use them to raise awareness within their own organizations and government bodies, which will in turn speed the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their nation, state or region.