CELEBRATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: Human Rights Day and the International Declaration of Human Rights
AIC 400th ANNIVERSARY YEAR BEGINS
December 10th marks the anniversary of the proclamation of the International Declaration of Human Rights (DHR) by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights. People are fearful about the trends currently in motion. Disrespect for even basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears.
We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference.
The DHR is an “old” document that I first read 13 years ago when I began volunteering at the Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s University. We were presenting a program and handed out little booklets of this work to all present. I (embarrassingly) did not recall ever hearing of this document before.
I reread it yesterday for the second time. Having been a New York UN NGO representative from the AIC for 5 years, I have been overwhelmed at times with all of the platforms, goals and agendas that have been produced by the United Nations; actions that we have to at least understand basically, in order to participate on behalf our organizations. As a civilian in this process I have worked hard to grasp, even a little, the magnitude and process of what was trying to be accomplished. I was struck by the simplicity of this document and how far we have come as a world society but how much is left to be done. Millennium Developments Goals, Sustainable Development Goals, etc. continue to list priorities that the international community recognizes as necessary. As long as we continue to talk about and attempt to find successful solutions for these issues, as frustrating as it can be at times, there is hope for a greater quality of life for the entire world. The role of all NGOs and civil society in general has never been more important.
The link to the declaration is below, here for you to read, perhaps for the first time?
Another anniversary occurs this week: the AIC begins celebrating its 400th year today, December 8. Its identity is based on three sources: the gospel, St. Vincent’s teachings and the Church’s social teaching. Formed by St. Vincent DePaul in 1617 to assist locally in rural France, it has grown to an international organization of 150,000 “volunteers” in 53 countries that works to be a Christian transformative force in society, to give priority to involvement with women around the world, through projects and actions that include the participation of the beneficiaries. Its Mission, following the teachings of the Church and the example of Saint Vincent de Paul, promises to fight against all forms of poverty and exclusion, through transformative initiatives and projects; to work with our brothers and sisters living in situations of poverty, encouraging the discovery of everyone’s individual strengths, supporting education and promoting a decent life; to denounce injustice and put pressure on civil society structures and decision-makers to fight the causes of poverty.
The AIC Vision is to be a Christian transformative force in society, to give priority to involvement with women around the world, through projects and actions that include the participation of the beneficiaries. It carries out local activities, collaborates on a local and global level, participates in networks and involves itself in public political programs or in civil society.
As we, the Vincentian Family at the United Nations, move forward in collaborating, we will continue the work of all of our Founders, promoting the charism that far predates the DHR!
This has an interpersonal dimension, which is respect for the other, a community and political dimension – in that human beings are fulfilled through belonging to a human organization – and a religious dimension – universal love, without measure (Mt 5:43), selfless (Lk 14:12-14) and truly willing to serve (Mt 20:25-28).