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Human rights: too important to underscore just once a year

World Human Rights Day: Celebrated on December 10

It’s International Human Rights Day, an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in recognizing everyone’s human rights, but also to think about the challenges that remain.

Every December 10 we mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

The UDHR proclaimed the rights to which everyone is entitled to “regardless of race, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social original, property, birth or other status.”

Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”  There are far too many parts of the world where Mandela’s words have failed to strike a chord.  

We are still struggling with racial equality all over the world, and while women have achieved rights in the workforce, they are still lagging behind their male counterparts for pay equity. Hate crimes are on the rise, and the flames are often fanned by polarizing figures like U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Youth Standing Up for Human Rights” is the theme of this year’s campaign

Young people are speaking out on injustices here at home and around the world.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is confident our youth are taking the lead in trying to make our world a better place.

“We owe it to them to listen, because they are the future of our union and our world,” said Thomas.

First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida  encourages and supports our youth to speak up against discrimination and injustice.

“I’ve said many times that they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but they are also the leaders of today,” said Almeida. “I’m so proud to see so many young people getting involved and showing leadership.”

Stand Up for Human Rights is a campaign spearheaded by the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. It showcases how young people are standing up against racism, bullying, discrimination, hate, injustice, and climate change, just to name a few.

“As we recognize International Human Rights Day here in Canada, we must also recognize the privileges we have here at home,” said Elizabeth Ha of the Provincial Human Rights Committee (PHRC).

“The PHRC encourages everyone to speak out in support of the millions of people around the world who are standing up and protesting their government policies of human rights violations. We hear them and we stand with them in solidarity.”