Human Rights Day! by Nicci Mattey (A’21) and Ellen Murphy (A’22)

by heatherbarry
Dec 10

December 10th is Human Rights Day! Human Rights Day recognizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its profound impact of setting human rights as an international standard. This December 10th join Tufts Amnesty International as we celebrate Human Rights Day and address how the Tufts community can advocate for these fundamental rights every day of the year.

Human Rights Day is a celebration of the UDHR, but also an acknowledgment of the work that still needs to be done in order to create an equitable and just international community. Created in 1948, the UDHR is a groundbreaking document that set a precedent to acknowledge that every human being, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, or another status, deserves to have fundamental rights including citizenship, freedom from slavery, the right to work, etc. Human Rights Day reflects on the importance of this document and human rights by addressing an important issue that the international community is presently facing.

This year, the 2020 theme of Human Rights Day is “Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights.” This year’s topic relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion, and discrimination. December 10th is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity. Under UN Human Rights’ generic call to action “Stand Up for Human rights”, we aim to engage the general public, our partners, and the UN family to bolster transformative action and showcase practical and inspirational examples that can contribute to recovering better and fostering more resilient and just societies.”  United Nations

Considering how fundamental human rights are to each individual’s life, Tufts Amnesty takes the time to learn more about international human rights at our weekly meetings (which are Mondays at 7:00 p.m. ). In previous meetings, we have dedicated time to reading the UDHR together and subsequently created a word cloud about the most important words and phrases. We have also talked about what human rights mean to us, how we have been educated about our rights, and what rights we feel are currently most vulnerable within the international and Tufts communities.

In addition to reading the UDHR, we’ve made a point to understand how human rights are challenged within the international community at our weekly meetings. We’ve examined cases such as abortion rights in Argentina, Indigenous rights, and the Black Lives Matter movement to understand which rights are not currently recognized, and the role that Amnesty International plays in pushing governments to recognize the rights of all citizens.

Finally, Tufts Amnesty takes action! We host multiple events on campus that contribute to recognizing human rights for all. We hold film screenings, speaker panels, and discussions about selected human rights issues, and sign petitions weekly to fight for these fundamental rights. 

Considering how important human rights are in our everyday lives, it is important that we all do our part in promoting human rights, especially within the Tufts community. Here are some ideas for making Human Rights Day a part of your life at Tufts:

  • Spark a conversation about what human rights mean to you with friends, professors, and family.
  • Reflect on how this day (and every other day) would be different if your human rights were not protected.
  • Sign a petition, write a letter to or call an official, attend a demonstration (virtually or in-person), and sign up for email lists with similar opportunities.
  • Learn about something new! Human rights crises are selectively covered by the media, and public interest often fades long before a crisis has been resolved. Think about your blind spots and challenge yourself to find something new.

Still thinking of ways to take action? You can start today! Join Tufts Amnesty International as we post what Human Rights Day means to us on our social media accounts. Use the hashtags #StandUp4HumanRights #TuftsAmnesty and #HumanRightsDay and join us in sparking change.