World without Wars today launched a new Human Rights campaign to highlight the discrepancy between the ideals laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights first launched in 1948, and the daily experience of human rights for the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants.
Under the slogan “These are OUR human rights. They have NO right to treat us like this,” the campaign draws attention to some of the biggest problems of human rights.
International Spokesperson, Tony Robinson said, “for many people, Human Rights are synonymous with great figures such as Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi who were famous prisoners of conscience. These people stood up for the injustices of a particular country and millions of people campaigned for their release which also essentially represented the beginning of the end of a repressive government. What people don’t realise is that Human Rights are such basic things as the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their family.”
The campaign itself is a series of images for posting on social media which illustrate a particular article of human rights or a relevant quotation from the works of Silo. The idea is that people find their favourite images and share them on facebook, twitter and elsewhere thereby raising awareness about human rights issues. The images are available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Hungarian.
The Declaration of Human Rights itself was drafted by a commission of people appointed from several countries including Eleanor Roosevelt of the USA and Stephane Hessel of France, who would later become such an inspiration for the Indignado (Indignant) movement in Spain.
The Declaration itself has not been without criticism. Muslim commentators have highlighted the occidental outlook of the document written from a Western and Christian perspective. Article 16 of the declaration talks about Marriage in a very Western way, something that causes cultural problems for many countries of Africa and Asia where polygamy is practiced. Even the US Mormons would disagree with a monogamous interpretation.
Silo, the Argentine writer and spiritual Guide wrote in his “Letters to My Friends” in 1992, “These 3 sub-paragraphs in article 16 present numerous difficulties of interpretation and application in various cultures that stretch from the Eastern Mediterranean through the Middle East and into Africa and Asia – that is to say they create difficulties for the greater part of humanity.”
Apart from the criticisms of the document in regards to its perspective and cultural issues, the fact is today that the human rights laid down in this declaration are no more than an aspiration that the famous ‘99%’ of the world’s population are unable to enjoy.
Let’s take a few examples:
“Article 26: Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”
Chile seems not have noticed this article when education has been privatised to the level where only those who pay seem to have access to higher education. Hungary is proposing the reduction of free university places from 50,000 to 10,000.
“Article 28: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”
Tell this to the innocent men, women and children who are dying in the process of regime change taking place in Syria and previously in Libya.
“Article 23: 1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”
The economic system we live in is not fit for the purpose of creating employment and yet instead of ditching it and developing a better system, governments give all the tax payer’s money to the banks resulting in austerity, unemployment, reduced human rights, poverty and even death.
We can go on…
“Article 13: 1.Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have their movement severely restricted by Israel who has never stopped settlement building despite international pleas.
“Article 20: 1.Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
Spain and Canada to name two countries have attacked peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and police violence. Video recorders have captured police agents infiltrating peaceful crowds to instigate violence.
Tony Robinson said, “If the Declaration of Universal Human Rights were truly implemented in all countries of the world we would already be in a situation where World without Wars and Violence would not need to exist. It would be such a monumental change in the lives of people that it would change the course of humanity for ever. In effect, the implementation of this declaration would eradicate war and the need for military expenditure.”
“However, Governments ignore human rights when it doesn’t suit them and the vast majority of people do not know what rights they have. As Silo pointed out, nowhere does it state that we can only enjoy human rights when the economy allows it. And we cannot defend the young people who took part in the Arab Spring without also defending the young people of Spain, Canada, Chile, Wall Street and everywhere else where people demonstrate peacefully for their rights. In both cases it is the struggle of young people to find a better future.”
In this context, the World without Wars campaign slogan “They have NO right to treat us like this” is a wake-up call to a generation. Let’s see if someone is listening.
The images are available at: