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. – From the Preamble of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
December 10, 2019 – On December 10, 1948, delegates to the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in a meeting at the Palais de Challoit, Paris.
Barely three years had passed since the end of the Second World War. While Paris had largely been spared physical destruction, the continent and the wider world bore the signs of the deadliest conflict in human history, one that had claimed the lives of as many as 85 million people, including a staggering 55 million non-combatants. Even in the aftermath, old political alliances were crumbling and new ideological battle-lines were being drawn.
“We can only imagine the desperate hope that brought the delegates to Paris,” said Teresa Woo-Paw, Chairperson of the Board, CRRF. “Having experienced unspeakable carnage, and with the possibility of even greater destruction in the nuclear age, the Declaration must have seemed like humanity’s last chance. But 70 years later, the human family has still not fully embraced the notion of equality and dignity of the person. Too often differences lead to violence wielded by state and non-state actors. While progress has been made, we see how fragile our gains may be. The rise of right-wing nationalist parties in Europe and elsewhere, and the success of demagogues who offer false hope through a toxic blend of grievance and restorative nostalgia poses a danger to us all.”
“We are not immune, in Canada, to these dark currents,” said Dr. Lilian Ma, CRRF Executive Director. Discrimination remains a reality for many Canadians, and hate crimes directed against our neighbours because of their religion, or place of birth or sexual orientation erodes the faith that we have in the strength of our institutions and of our safety in the public square. As well, we have only begun to walk the road to reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous community. Human Rights may be proclaimed in a document, but they can only be secured and maintained through daily acts of respect and recognition of our shared humanity.”
CRRF International Human Rights Day Activities
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.