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.
I have a big passion about civil rights for everyone - whoever is being downtrodden at the moment, it doesn't matter: racial discrimination or sexual orientation or gender. Whatever it is, I'm there. I think I was a born civil rights activist. I can't stand the smashing of a community. It's not fair and it's not right.
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.
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