Before Christmas we celebrated International Human Rights Day, commemorating the moment the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the UN, and a stark reminder to us all of the total horrors of the Holocaust during the Second World War that necessitated the UN to enshrine this important declaration into international law.
The day also marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This milestone document proclaimed proudly that each one of us has inalienable rights which we are all entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
It was put together by representatives from every corner of the globe and from all manner of legal and cultural backgrounds so that every person would be represented. The Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person; today the document is the most translated in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
The Declaration of Human Rights empowers and protects us all with the principles enshrined within it as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others by taking action to protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.
I believe that the enduring message of cooperation and mutual respect that came out of the rubble of the Second World War is one of modern civilisations proudest achievements and showed humanity at our best. We can sometimes forget that this Declaration came about only three short years after the bloodiest and most violent period in our collective history – as a civilisation we pushed ourselves to the edge before recognising the importance of mutual worldwide respect.
Today we still fight for human dignity and respect in some of the most tough to reach corners of the planet. Although so many of us the world over now enjoy free speech and are protected under the law, many other are still members of cultural, religious or sexual groups of people who have no voice or legal status.
Our fathers and grandfathers fought and died on battlefields across the world to ensure that we would live in a dignified world with social justice for all.
Let us make sure that as we enter 2019 we all fight for the rights of others in this country, and the world over to ensure we never ever return to the past, and move forward to a world of dignity and respect for all.