My voice counts

Drafters including a Lebanese Arab, the Committee Rapporteur, Dr. Charles Malik

Drafters including a Lebanese Arab, the Committee Rapporteur, Dr. Charles Malik

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Today is Human Rights Day.

64 years ago, a drafting committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt finalized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that took two years to write and rewrite.

The drafting committee was chosen from eight countries representing the World body  including Committee Rapporteur, a Lebanese Arab scholar from my birth region of Al Koura in North Lebanon-Dr. Charles Malik.  Since the turbulent time following the destructive Second World War and the resolve of nations to protect human beings and their human dignity, an Arab was at the table taking part in crafting what was to become the most important universal declaration of our times.

The declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly who were meeting in Paris on December 10th 1948.

One of the drafting committee members, the Chilean Hernán Santa Cruz wrote:

“I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality.  In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”

(Source: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/history.shtml)

If you don’t have time to read anything at all, at least read the text of the declaration. Once. It concerns you, it was written by these great thinkers more than six decades ago precisely for you, and I, and every human chancing to live on our planet. Each of us should read it, discuss it, reflect upon it, and aspire to live by it.  It is our charter, our very own road map to a dignified, free, full life where no one could rob us of our right to live, to think, to feel, to be safe, to reproduce and to be who we were meant to be to the best of our ability.

What you and I and people around the world need more than the oxygen we breathe is a recognition of our value as humans, and to be given a chance to hope, to dream, to be inspired, to create, to be productive, and to do all of that freely.

The link to the declaration is below. If you do nothing else today, just give it a glance. I bet you’re a bit curious about what all the fuss is about. All the fuss is about you and I.

Humans.

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

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2 Responses to My voice counts

  1. Bedr says:

    I admire your sense of purpose. Unfortunately it is aimed at the wrong direction. Firstky let me say I admire your passion in forwarding the declaration of human rights on your blog and encouraging people to read it. But dont you think its ironic that it is coming from the UN, an organization that implicitly imposed sanctions on Iraqis which killed more than 500, 000 children; and more recently approved an illegal war against Libya which saw the installation of Al Qaeda there?

    For the first time in history the leader of the world biggest army is the head of the UN secueity council – this unpermitted act, for obvious reasons – had seen Obama destroy his country’s Bill of Rights and Constitution in favour of “Executive Orders” by what is coined the council of thirteen (google that btw).

    Dont you think you should be sending the DHR to some of the people you work for instead of distributing it to people who have lived to see it fail?

    Sincerely.

    • Brigitte says:

      Hi Bedr. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to respond. One thing I need to say first is: Don’t throw the baby with the bath water (a proverb). When the declaration was inked, it was to write down principles that will guard against the horrors of wars, aggression, grave practices against human beings driven by the power of arms. What I am driving at is that the intent was and still is a good one, a moral compass for us to go by. There are many transgressions all along our human history and since the declaration, but in my optimistic view, we are moving forward, we are learning from mistakes, but due to those mistakes, such as in the cases of mass genocide and actions against nations motivated by political and economic considerations, we strengthen our resolve, we should not abandon our principles just because they are not being observed universally. When there is a plane crash, the aviation system learns from it and makes stronger planes and better systems, they don’t give up flying. I share your frustration on Iraq, I worked there. I lived in Lebanon where we collectively felt that the World abandoned us and left us to the wolves, just like our Syrian brothers are feeling now. The solution is what I disagree with you about. We do have the United Nations, the sole authority mandated to protect, let’s strengthen it collectively, as it represents us all. Is it underperforming at times? It sure is. Is the veto system unfair? I think so too. But we do have a system put in place that we need to work together on reforming, not abandon altogether. If we did, what would be the alternative? The security council part, the political part driven by member states, is not the UN in its entirety, it is but one part of a Global system and agencies focussed on humanitarian aid like UNHCR, UNICEF, World Food Programme that work to the best of their ability to deliver aid in very difficult circumstances to those who need it most after disasters and crises. Development, cultural, environmental agencies, and of course peacekeeping and human rights make the bulk of what the UN does. The security council is run by the member states, and we in the agencies and in the UN in general have no control over its working, we are the receiving end of it, as are the countries discussed in its deliberations.
      I wanted to clarify that, and hope to continue the conversation.
      Brigitte

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