Happy International Human Rights day 2016! In 1950, the UN, passed a Resolution so that the 10th December is remembered by humanity as the day when we came together to say "never again" to human rights atrocities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) was signed on the back of the French revolution's three pillars of liberté, égalité, fraternité. Today, the UN is asking everyone to "Stand up for someone's rights".
I am sorry to be (once again) cynical, but in which world is the UN Secretary General living in? How can you stand for someone's human rights when you have forgotten yourself the very words of Eleanor Roosevelt as she was signing the UNDHR: "Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world". This also includes Aleppo, Mr. Secretary General.
470,000 killings have been reported in Syria half of which involved children and young people. In October, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien called the failure of the UN security council, and Russia, to stop the bombing of eastern Aleppo as “our generation’s shame”. His words reminded me of former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold's 2004 book Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos. It is an interesting read!
I recently wrote about "The Death of Democracy and the Forces of Power and Control: The Case of Europe". What I should have said is "The case of the world". What I was also asked to exclude from the paper was my moaning about the UN and what is currently happening in Turkey whether this relates to the retraction of human rights for its citizens, the persecution of academics, the imprisonment of anyone who disagrees with the status quo ... and yes the continuous military occupation of Cyprus. But, rest assured, I will not be silenced (more to come)!
I could continue moaning, but in all honesty when I raise the mirror of responsibility I see my own face in front of all others'. In our "safe" Westernised democracies, we have all become complacent. Human rights are now as dirty as the caves in which terrorists go and hide. Human rights are not for those who are left in hospital beds unchanged for days, for disabled people or for older ladies who were left undressed for hours (these are realities that I observed myself). Human rights are not for the children in Aleppo either. Human rights are for terrorists claiming asylum, child molesters avoiding punishment and for celebrities protecting their naked photos. This is the image of human rights today in the UK and I suspect the world.
Those who have read my peer reviewed work know that I wear my heart on my sleeve. But I hope that I also speak from evidence. Nothing that I say here is intended to smear anyone's reputation (including that of the UN).
Today, I do not want to stand up for someone's rights, but for anyone's rights. On this day, I am calling to stand up for human rights. How? Start from yourself. Become a champion of your child's rights. Were they bullied at school? How about your wife? Your husband? And after you have done this flip back to that channel with news on Aleppo. The genocide is happening, and will continue whether you flip the channel or not. If we stand for human rights, maybe next time that we are asked to abandon our right to free movement we think twice. And wait for it. The government has made it clear. They want us out of the European Convention on Human Rights. Oh yes. The "Human Rights Act will be scrapped", our arrogant politicians have confirmed. Only forgetting the lives that have been put on the line to get us where we are today. Leave the EU, leave the Council of Europe, leave the Human Rights Act, leave the European Convention on Human Rights ... what is next? Leave the UNDHR? And enter what?