70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms which belong to every person. I recently graduated from the René Cassin Human Rights Fellowship, a programme that provides insight into human rights through a Jewish lens.

December 10th 1948 the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Jews had a major role in drafting, this was especially pertinent as it was just after World War II. If you are interested in this, a must read is East West Street, as it is a memoir of the Jewish legal minds who set the groundwork for human rights at the Nuremberg trials. This provided exceptional insight for me in understanding one aspect of the Jewish connection and birth of human rights.

The way in which you choose to connect to something is truly personal and individual, especially when we are discussing something intrinsic to identity. Some will see history, education or religion as a driving force, some will see other reasons and some may see none at all. For me, as a Jewish woman I am proud of the connection we as a religion, community and race have to human rights.

Anniversaries usually denote celebration, this one I think deserves scrutiny. What more can be done and why should we do it? How can we champion the rights of others and defend those that need us most? How can we use our point of privilege to work for a more fair and just society? Why should I even care in the first place?

If you have never thought about human rights and what they mean to you, think about it. This isn’t a party political issue this is an issue that should be considered by all. We are all human and we all deserve fundamental equal rights. René Cassin a co-author of the Human Rights Deceleration and the inspiration for my fellowship said, he was happy but would be happier if there were a little more justice in the world.  

Grace Diamond, Sabbatical Officer

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