Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference

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Global Citizenship Education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Over the seven decades since its adoption, the Universal Declaration has underpinned countless beneficial changes in the lives of millions of people across the world, permeating some 90 national Constitutions and numerous national, regional and international laws and institutions. But, 70 years after its adoption, the work the Universal Declaration lays down for us to do is far from over.

And it never will be.

In 30 crystal-clear articles, the Universal Declaration shows us the measures which will end extreme poverty, and provide food, housing, health, education, jobs and opportunities for everyone. It lights the path to a world without wars and Holocausts, without torture or famine or injustice. A world where misery is minimized and no one is too rich or powerful to evade justice. A world where every human has the same worth as every other human, not just at birth but for the duration of their entire lives. The drafters wanted to prevent another war by tackling the root causes, by setting down the rights everyone on the planet could expect and demand simply because they exist — and to spell out in no uncertain terms what cannot be done to human beings.

The poor, the hungry, the displaced and the marginalized — drafters aimed to establish systems to support and protect them.

Global Citizenship Education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | Academic Impact

The right to food and to development is crucial. But this has to be achieved without discrimination on the basis of race, gender or other status. The rights to land and adequate housing are absolutely basic — and yet in some countries, austerity measures are eroding those very rights for the most vulnerable. Climate change can undermine the right to life, to food, to shelter and to health.

These are all related — and the Universal Declaration and international human rights conventions provide a roadmap to their achievement. I am convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in this Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history — as well as one of the most successful. Their dignity is trampled and their rights are violated on a daily basis.

In many countries, the fundamental recognition that all human beings are equal, and have inherent rights, is under attack.

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The institutions so painstakingly set up by States to achieve common solutions to common problems are being undermined. And the comprehensive web of international, regional and national laws and treaties that gave teeth to the vision of the Universal Declaration is also being chipped away by governments and politicians increasingly focused on narrow, nationalist interests.

HLS in the World - How does International Human Rights Make a Difference in the World?

I will end, where the Universal Declaration begins, with the powerful promise — and warning — contained in the first lines of its Preamble: "…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. We have come a long way down this path since We have taken many of progressive measures prescribed by the Universal Declaration at the national and international levels. But we still have a long way to go, and too many of our leaders seem to have forgotten these powerful and prophetic words.

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We need to rectify that, not just today, not just on the 70th anniversary next Monday, but every day, every year. Abstract: From the diverse work and often competing insights of women's human rights activists, Brooke Ackerly has written a feminist and a universal theory of human rights that bridges the relativists' concerns about universalizing from particulars and the activists' commitment to justice. Unlike universal theories that rely on shared commitments to divine authority or to an 'enlightened' way of reasoning, Ackerly's theory relies on rigorous methodological attention to difference and disagreement.

She sets out human rights as at once a research ethic, a tool for criticism of injustice and a call to recognize our obligations to promote justice through our actions. This book will be of great interest to political theorists, feminist and gender studies scholars and researchers of social movements. Cambridge University Press.

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