“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
We mark International Human Rights Day by contemplated these words of former American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who underscores the importance of understanding human rights not merely as a call to nation-states to protect their populace from abuses, but as an interpersonal code to which each of us must abide in our most private and familiar settings.
Her words implore us to call upon each other to uphold our inalienable rights which, by the Declaration of Human Rights – a pivotal document penned in 1948 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly – includes the presumption of freedom and dignity without distinction on the grounds of:
- political or other opinions
- national or social origin
- or other status.
While we continue to navigate the impacts of the global pandemic and recovery efforts ahead, standing up for human rights is imperative for correcting the course of systemic inequality. This has been made ever more evident by uneven COVID related death rates and unemployment across racial and socioeconomic lines. This year’s theme, “Recover Better- Stand Up for Human Rights”, draws a direct line between the fair treatment of individuals and robust recovery. To bring this theme to action we need to look no further than our homes, our streets, our institutions, and our places of work and worship, to see opportunities for improvement. Some questions to promote reflection and contemplation might be:
- What does dignified action look like at the micro-level for me?
- How do I want to be treated in my private and professional settings?
- How might I address any human rights abuses, big or small, taking place around me?
- To which communal or large-scale efforts might I lend a hand in rebuilding a more equitable world?
For Human Rights Day, and in fact, every day, The Neutral Zone invites you to consider these questions and familiarize yourself with your rights by checking out this illustrated book of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reading more about Human Rights Day and this year’s particular focus, including 2020 campaign materials.
At The Neutral Zone, we recognize that in our rapidly changing social landscape, a focus on human rights and upholding the highest possible standard of care for individuals is the key to success. We have always stood for that standard. Did you know that our legal name, registered some 20 years ago, is The Neutral Zone Human Rights Consulting Services Inc.? We are a team of arbitrators, mediators, conflict resolution specialists, project managers, presenters and counsellors. Above all else, we are a group of Human
As Roosevelt reminds us, moving the dial on human rights requires our attention at the most micro-level of human interaction for it is at this scale of focus that the Declaration of Human Rights comes to life.