This Week in Restoring Family Links Blog 12/07/2015 - 12/11/2015

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter. This week, the Restoring Family Links Blog and Twitter highlighted Human Rights Day. Below is further information about human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What is more important? Voting or eating? This simplified question is at the crux of the human rights debate when cultural relativity is argued. Human rights are universal and one does not trump the other. What exactly are human rights though?

Human rights are a set of principles concerning the treatment to which all individuals are entitled by virtue of simply being human. Over time, these ideas have been accepted as international norms and define what is necessary for humans to thrive, both in terms of protection from abuses and being provided with the elements necessary for a life of dignity.

The most important of the international human rights regime is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration – the best-known, most general, and most widely accepted statement of the regime’s norms – are usually divided into civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights, but a more useful and precise classification is possible.

1)      Personal rights, including rights to life; recognition before the law; protection against cruel, degrading, or inhumane treatment or punishment; and protection against racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious discrimination. (Articles 2-7, 15)

2)      Legal rights, including access to remedies for violations of basic rights; the presumption of innocence; the guarantee of fair and impartial public trials; prohibition against ex post facto laws; and protection against arbitrary arrests, detention, or exile, and arbitrary interference with one’s family, home, or reputation. (Articles 8-12)

3)      Civil liberties, especially rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; opinion and expression; movement and residence; and peaceful assembly and association. (Articles 13, 18-20)

4)      Subsistence rights, particularly the rights to food and a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family. (Article 25)

5)      Economic rights, including principally the rights to work, rest and leisure, and social security. (Articles 22-24)

6)      Social and cultural rights, especially rights to education and to participate in the cultural life of the community. (Articles 26, 27)

7)      Political rights, principally the rights to take part in government and to periodic and genuine elections with universal and equal suffrage (Article 21), plus the political aspects of many civil liberties.

Most people are able to trust their governments to protect their human rights. However, it is the violations of human rights by governments that has led to many refugee and migrant movements. As these individuals seek safety in other countries, it is important to ensure their rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of workshop, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

It was this fear that forced one unaccompanied refugee minor to flee Algeria after escaping civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where his family was murdered in front of him. In Algeria, this young boy was regularly exposed to racism and xenophobia which prevented him from being able to integrate into Algerian society. As a result of this lack of local integration and the consistent and constant harassment and persecution, the adolescent was resettled in the United States, where his human rights can be upheld. Additionally, through the Restoring Family Links program, the Red Cross has initiated cases to hopefully find and reconnect him with his family. For this Human Rights Day, step up to protect humanity and stop the indifference.