HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
December 10, 2011
Today when you woke up, you probably ate breakfast, took a shower, read the newspaper, or checked Facebook. You got dressed, gathered your text books, listened to your ipod, and went to class. You said “hi” to friends in the hallway and stopped to talk. You went to class for an hour or two. You may have gone to a job interview or to work. In just a few hours, you enjoyed many basic, fundamental human rights that most people do not give a passing thought to.
The right to clean water and food, the right to freedom of thought and expression, the right to work, the right to education, the right to clothing and housing, the right to enjoy the arts and share in scientific advancement, and the right to own property and possessions are all basic human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This powerful declaration, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, consists of a preamble and 30 articles, setting out a broad range of fundamental human rights and freedoms to which people across the globe are entitled, without any distinction. The declaration calls for recognition that every child, woman and man deserves access to health, safety, education, medical care, due process, food, shelter, and opportunity for advancement.
Human rights are inherent to each of us, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, or language. Human Rights integrate us as a global community, and as a global community we share a day in common: Human Rights Day on December 10. Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adapted 63 years ago, December 10 has served to mark Human Rights Day around the world. This day commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the Declaration. It is important for us to take a moment and consider the basic human rights that we are lucky to have. In addition, we should consider the events that transpired throughout the last year that celebrate human rights.
This year, millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. All over the world people took to the streets and demanded change. The internet was a major tool used to encourage and organize supporters to seek their basic human rights. Social media helped activists mobilize peaceful protest movements in cities around the world - from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York - at times in the face of violent repression.
Worcester State University has a long, distinguished history of advocating for support of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1982, now-emeritus English professor Merrill Goldwyn and Worcester resident Reverend Paul Ferrin, with support from WSU’s administration and faculty, established the Center for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR). Goldwyn and Ferrin began the CSHR with the goal of bringing a strong human rights program to the University. Since its founding, the CSHR has aimed to promote awareness about various human rights issues through curriculum development and through lectures, speakers, and symposia that address these issues. The CSHR sponsors the WSU chapter of Amnesty International, which seeks to promote student-led initiatives for social justice. Over the years the CSHR has held many events that promote a greater understanding and awareness of human rights. The CSHR has co-sponsored events with groups such as Intergenerational Urban Institute, Global Studies, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Some of the past speakers include Shirley Chisholm, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eli Wiesel, Joshua Rubenstein, Congressman James P. McGovern, and Steven Keenan ’63, Julio Sanchez, and Emmanuel Jal.
On Human Rights Day 2011, we pay tribute to all human rights defenders and ask you to get involved in the global human rights movement. Contact the CSHR for more information or join WSU’s chapter of Amnesty International to learn more and to make a change. https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights http://twitter.com/UNrightswire http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR