Global Appeal for Human Rights Learning
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains a beacon to the world, a powerful instrument that expressed the aspiration of human beings to live in dignity and with one another. Yet the Declaration’s hope and promise of "freedom from fear and freedom from want" remains an unrealized vision for too many. Human beings are consumed by barbarous acts that continue to outrage the conscience of humankind.
All people must know their human rights in order to live together in justice and dignity; to become agents of transformation and establish human rights as a way of life. Humanity—standing on the brink of devastation, with millions of people mired in poverty, environmental destruction, violence and oppression—aspires to live in a world of human dignity, freedom, and social and economic justice. Learning human rights bridges the chasm of despair. It liberates us from the prison of ignorance, and empowers us all to know, claim and make real our universal and inalienable human rights.
As we review the 1995-2004 United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, we note significant achievements and much that remains to be done to realize the values it enshrines. In defining the values for the Millennium Declaration, the world’s leaders affirmed, "Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice." Human rights are the articulation of these universal human values.
The United Nations was founded with a vision of a world order built on the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable human rights of all. To secure this vision, all people must learn and act according to our universal human rights, which define a shared moral and legal framework for living in dignity within our varied communities.
Learning together also means unlearning the inhumanity, violence and injustice that plague the human condition. Learning from the experiences of people is as valuable as traditional teaching to embed the qualities of humility, empathy and mutual respect that underlie human rights. The voices of people deprived of human rights—and thus of their human dignity—are indispensable guides to learning our shared duties to the community, and to constructing a world where every individual and all organs of society secure universal respect for human rights for all. Through dialogue, interaction and learning we move from information to knowledge to realization of the imperatives of social and economic justice within a human rights framework. Learning human rights harnesses the energies of all people to develop a shared global culture of human rights.
We call for actions that enable all people to understand human rights, in the words of the Universal Declaration, as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations" and as "the highest aspiration of the common people." We must make human rights learning a dynamic and powerful force to fulfil this promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
-- Human Rights Day, 10 December 2004
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