International Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, International Human Rights Day will kick off a year-long UN campaign to mark the Declaration’s 70th anniversary.
Drafted in response to the atrocities of World War II, and to the colonialism that was rampant at the time, the Declaration contains thirty articles on human rights that remain as strong today as they were seven decades ago. The articles encompass a wide range of basic rights that include freedom of association and freedom of speech as well as the right to health, education, and equality, among other fundamental rights. These rights are key to binding us together as workers and as a global community.
With rising incidents of hate crimes, shrinking democratic spaces, worsening environmental and economic turmoil and violence, we are reminded that every day must be a day to uphold human rights. As voices of hate and discrimination become more emboldened, CUPE members, leaders and staff are reminded that it is our responsibility as global citizens to stand up to injustice everywhere.
As we reflect on CUPE’s own Equality Statement, we offer some suggestions for how your local can promote international human rights and mark December 10:
- Visit the UN website to learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its history, and events being held around the world.
- Inform yourself and your local on human rights issues. Read the UN Report on Canada’s human rights record.
- Take part in the #standup4humanrights campaign over the next year, leading up to next year’s 70th anniversary.
- Recognize someone in your local or community who has contributed to improving human rights.
- Invite a speaker on human rights to your local meeting.
- Form a committee on human rights in your local, and
- Have a notice board to promote human rights activities, events, news and issues.
CUPE locals are encouraged to start thinking and planning now to mark the 70th anniversary of the Declaration. Together, we will continue to build awareness of human rights issues, and inspire people to strive to ensure that all people enjoy human rights equally.