Monday marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Elements of historic, idealistic post-Second World War United Nations document ignored, rejected for 70 years by many of the 48 signatories, including Canada
The document states 30 basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.
We talk to seven Winnipeggers about the ones that mean the most to them /
SEVENTY years ago, with the horrors of the Second World War, the Holocaust and the Holodomor on full display in the rearview mirror, a consortium of lawmakers, government representatives, academics and ideologues gathered to draft a document they hoped would prevent any similar atrocities from happening again.
It was a bold vision, and the newly formed United Nations, which replaced the ineffective League of Nations, had high hopes for the document. On Dec. 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the UN’s General Assembly. Within the declaration, 30 specific articles describing a variety of rights and freedoms were written, establishing a centralized framework the UN had determined was needed.
It was a landmark accomplishment, but even the countries that voted in favour of the declaration routinely violated it then, and continued to violate it now.
In Canada, for example, although the right to a universal franchise is enshrined in the declaration, it took years before many groups were legally allowed to vote. The declaration also proclaims the universal right of a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of all people, including food; dozens of First Nations still lack running water, and many have water that is unsafe to drink. It also stipulates a guarantee of equal work for equal pay, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation, yet certain groups still earn considerably less than others.
Though seven decades have passed, there is still more to be done to protect those rights. Several Winnipeggers have a deep understanding of just how important that notion is.
Seid Ahmed was targeted by Ethiopian authorities because he was simply a journalist trying to tell the truth.