Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world. Eleanor Roosevelt
The bombardment of post-election analysis and anecdotes come sometime drown out major events. At least that’s how I missed the fact that today, December 10, 2016, is Human Rights Day. Late, but not too late, to reflect on the universal theme.
According to the official HRD website, “Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
Emphasis of the international recognition of Human Rights Day 2016 is on standing up for the human rights of others; clearly the focus is on global challenges. Some starting points:
- Human Rights Day 2016: http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/
- Stand Up 4 Human Rights Day http://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/highlight_human-rights-day.html
- Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org
Still, during this turbulent year we face an unprecedented challenge to focus on the human rights within our own community. We cannot ignore the voices of intolerance or the overt expressions of vicious hate within our community; nor can we gloss over the nuanced indicators of disrespect for our fellow humans. As we pat ourselves on the back for legislative gains it’s clear that man’s inhumanity to man is not written off by legislation.
A quick skim of the daily press – which actually conveys news that takes more than 140 characters – proves the prevalence of intolerance, hatred, and human rights abuse around the world and the nation. Still, it is revealing to take a look closer to home. Here are some, definitely not all, of the Minnesota organizations that play leadership roles in looking at our politics and values from the human rights perspective. An armchair search of their websites is enough to remind us of the intrusions on human rights we encounter – perhaps overlook – on a daily basis:
- The Advocates for Human Rights: http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org
- Legal Rights Center: http://www.legalrightscenter.org/about.html
- Outfront Minnesota: https://www.outfront.org/library/humanrights
- Minnesota Disability Law Center http://mylegalaid.org/about/our-work/disability-law/
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights: http://mn.gov/mdhr/
- University of Minnesota Human Rights Center: http://www1.law.umn.edu/humanrightscenter/index.html