Toronto – December 7, 2015 – On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration outlines the fundamental rights for protections of all peoples. Globally, it remains the most translated piece of human rights protections.
This year, the United Nations will focus on advancing human rights and freedoms through a one-year campaign entitled “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always” – centered on the International Bill of Rights. This document is a compilation of two important covenants (The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While many may often think of human rights as an issue fundamental to other societies around the world, human rights in Canada also continue to be a pressing concern. Whether it be the treatment of migrant workers, Syrian refugees, the attack on labour rights, access to transgender healthcare, violence against women, or diversity and inclusion strategies, the seed of human rights must still be planted and nurtured in order to grow. This concept has as much meaning today in Canada as it did in 1948.
The inalienable rights that we have recognized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in other human rights legislation, and by the courts — these rights must be a central lens from which we view all legislation and rules governing Canadian society.
Over the last 10 years, it seemed that human rights had taken a backseat to narrow-mindedness, corporate greed and closed government under the recently defeated Conservative regime in Ottawa. Our hope for the future is that human rights be reaffirmed as the framework in which governments in Canada operate.
On this Human Rights Day, I encourage you to reflect on what the concept of human rights means in your life and the lives of those around you. On December 10, I encourage you to commit to participating in one action in defence of human rights. As Mahatma Gandhi said so eloquently, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Paul R. Meinema