By Eileen Little, Humanitas Global
December 10th marked 68 years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, on the second anniversary of the Declaration’s ratification, the United Nations’ General Assembly established an annual Human Rights Day. Since then, the international community has celebrated Human Rights Day by holding campaigns, seminars, and activities to promote awareness for the 30 articles that define the basic rights each and every person is entitled to. And, more importantly, to continue to take a stand for people whose human rights are still not being met.
This year the theme of Human Rights Day is, “ Stand up for someone’s rights today”. The United Nations (UN) shared a few ideas for celebrating Human Rights Day together:
- Get to know the 30 articles that make up the Declaration. Use social media to inform your friends and colleagues about the anniversary and what it stands for.
- Use your voice when you see other’s rights at risk. This can be as simple as standing up to someone you see being bullied.
- Get involved. Donate to an organization that supports human rights or join events celebrating human rights day.
- Urge elected officials to uphold human rights
This year we are going to focus on Article 25, which focuses on adequate standards of living that all individuals should have access to, so they are able to maintain their own health and wellbeing: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
To dive deeper, how do we adequately define these measurements? What does it mean to have an adequate amount of food or have access to a home? And 68 years since the inception of these ideals, has the global community met these initiatives?
Food: The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines having adequate food in the following way:
The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement. Food must be available, accessible and adequate.
Today, some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy and active life. That's about one in nine people on earth. An additional two million suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, indicating a lack of adequate food and/or lack of access to adequate food.
Housing: The right to adequate housing include:
- Protection against forced evictions and the arbitrary destruction and demolition of one’s home;
- The right to be free from arbitrary interference with one’s home, privacy and family; and The right to choose one’s residence, to determine where to live and to freedom of movement.
- The right to adequate housing contains entitlements.
Today well over one billion people are not adequately housed. Millions around the world live in life- or health-threatening conditions, in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity. Further millions are forcibly evicted, or threatened with forced eviction, from their homes every year.
Until all people have access to these human rights we must stand up, advocate for, and insist that more must be done. Human Rights Day should serve as a reminder to act for those lacking basic rights each and everyday. Whether it’s a focus on the right to food or medical care, find a way to use your voice for those who may not have an opportunity to advocate for themselves.