December 6, 2018 / CNW / – On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The timing was not coincidental. It took place three years after the end of the Second World War – a conflict that took the lives of between 50 and 80 million combatants and civilians, and which provided a shameful platform on which the darkest urges of humanity were displayed, leading to unrestrained hatred and genocide.
“Those who worked on the commission to draft the declaration, Including Canadian diplomat John Humphrey, must have felt not only the weight of history on their shoulders but also a desperate sense of urgency,” said Teresa Woo-Paw Chairperson of the Board, CRRF. “The use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened up horrifying vistas of future destruction. Unchecked, such impulses could lead to the end of humanity.”
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the committee that drafted the declaration. For her, it was necessary that nations understand and embrace the fundamental human rights of every human being at every time and in every place. “Where, after all,” she said, “do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small they cannot be seen on any maps of the world …. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning everywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
“70 years later, we recognize that the promise of universal human rights has only been partly fulfilled,” said Dr. Lilian Ma, CRRF Executive Director. “Too often, nations have chosen to settle their differences through force of arms rather than diplomacy; the stain of genocide has not been lifted from our collective human history and those human rights which have been gained, find themselves in some places under attack as the populist politics of fear and resentment do battle with our democratic impulses. And yet there has been progress. In Canada we can point to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the federal and provincial human rights codes that inform our understanding of the principles of fundamental human rights and respect for human dignity, as well as provisions in our Criminal Code that provide important protections to those who are often the victims of hate.”
In 2018, let us recommit to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and #StandUp4HumanRights on this and every day to come.
In honour of International Human Rights Day we invite you to attend a roundtable discussion in the Toronto area – Human Rights at 70 - where we will examine and celebrate human rights victories of the past and engage in a deep discussion about current issues in the realm of human rights, with a special focus on the racialized aspects of poverty, income inequality, justice, education, and intercultural understanding. The event is free but registration is required please go to this link for additional information and to register.
About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
The purpose of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society. The work of the Foundation is premised on the desire to create and nurture an inclusive society based on equity, social harmony, mutual respect and human dignity. Its underlying principle in addressing racism and racial discrimination emphasizes positive race relations and the promotion of shared Canadian values of human rights and democratic institutions.
For more information
Praan Misir 416 441-1900