There's this big debate that goes on in America about what rights are: Civil rights, human rights, what they are? it's an artificial debate. Because everybody has rights. Everybody has rights - I don't care who you are, what you do, where you come from, how you were born, what your race or creed or color is. You have rights. Everybody's got rights.
When you expand the civil-rights struggle to the level of human rights, you can then take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the UN. You can take it before the General Assembly. You can take Uncle Sam before a world court. But the only level you can do it on is the level of human rights. Civil rights keeps you under his restrictions, under his jurisdiction. Civil rights keeps you in his pocket.
Slavery was, in a very real sense, the first international human rights issue to come to the fore. It led to the adoption of the first human rights laws and to the creation of the first human rights non-governmenta l organization. And yet despite the efforts of the international community to combat this abhorrent practice, it is still widely prevalent in all its insidious forms, old and new.
The world has got more democracies than ever, and human rights are high on almost every country's agenda. Still, corruption and oppression are far too common threats to the democratic society. And we have seen a dramatic increase, the last 10-15 years, of ethnical conflicts and humanitarian crises with human rights violations as important elements., but also more of corruption. Human rights are praised more than ever - and violated as much as ever.
We must understand the role of human rights as empowering of individuals and communities. By protecting these rights, we can help prevent the many conflicts based on poverty, discrimination and exclusion (social, economic and political) that continue to plague humanity and destroy decades of development efforts. The vicious circle of human rights violations that lead to conflicts-which in turn lead to more violations-must be broken. I believe we can break it only by ensuring respect for all human rights.
For us democracy is a question of human dignity. And human dignity is political freedom, the right to freely express opinion and the right to be allowed to criticise and form opinions. Human dignity is the right to health, work, education and social welfare. Human dignity is the right and the practical possibility to shape the future with others. These rights, the rights of democracy, are not reserved for a select group within society, they are the rights of all the people.
the right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right ... Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.
Human rights education is much more than a lesson in schools or a theme for a day; it is a process to equip people with the tools they need to live lives of security and dignity. On this International Human Rights Day, let us continue to work together to develop and nurture in future generations a culture of human rights, to promote freedom, security and peace in all nations.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that 'if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression', human rights should be protected by the rule of law. That just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundation of peace and security would be denied only by closed minds which interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power.
Some people ask: "Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?" Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general-but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
My position as regards the monied interests can be put in a few words. In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run, identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand; for property belongs to man and not man to property.
This, then, is the truth of the discourse of universal human rights: the Wall separating those covered by the umbrella of Human Rights and those excluded from its protective cover. Any reference to universal human rights as an 'unfinished project' to be gradually extended to all people is here a vain ideological chimera - and, faced with this prospect, do we, in the West, have any right to condemn the excluded when they use any means, inclusive of terror, to fight their exclusion?
Our human responsibility for animal rights, plant rights, and the rights of the earth to its health and wholeness is self-evident. Whatever our beliefs about the hereafter we are the temporary custodians of the here-and-now, and if we neglect our obligations or abuse our powers then we abrogate any rights to a further share in this planet's delights.
One cannot have a trade union or a democratic election without freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly. Without a democratic election, whereby people choose and remove their rulers, there is no method of securing human rights against the state. No democracy without human rights, no human rights without democracy, and no trade union rights without either. That is our belief; that is our creed.
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