Today is International Human Rights Day, a day when we can all celebrate our human rights but also make our voices count for those who’s rights are under attack across the world.
In ten different libraries across Auckland City today, Amnesty International organised Write For Rights events for people to write letters in support of prisoners of conscience overseas. Over on Twitter, people are posting their thoughts and stories using the hashtag #VoiceCount.
Of course, human rights issues do not simply happen overseas. Right here in New Zealand, the Government’s welfare reforms could breach our obligations under a range of international human rights treaties and conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Government is willing to ride roughshod over the human rights of beneficiaries in the name of cost cutting and vote grabbing. Meanwhile, yesterday’s release of the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 update clearly demonstrates the link between poverty and child illness and death. A Government that was truly concerned about human rights and ensuring that our children can live up to their potential would be ensuring that all our children get the best possible start towards a good life and a fair future.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document of huge importance, and the values it contains lay out the basis of a just global society. On International Human Rights Day, we should all take stock of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go, to ensure that we are all able to live up to the noble goals embodied in the Declaration.