Human Rights Month is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in December 1948 in the wake of the horror of World War II.
The UN —an infant organization at the time — approved the document as a way of defining what the world’s body of nations means by “human rights.”
The declaration’s ringing words start with Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” From there, the document bans slavery, declares the equality of all under the law, bans torture and “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” prohibits arbitrary arrest, confinement or exile, and declares a universal right to an education, a right to free association, a right to work and a right to participatory government.
In one way or another, the declaration’s 30 articles carve the outline of four basic freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want
Universal Human Rights Month returns every December to mark the declaration’s creation. But its words mean little without the voices of activists and common citizens around the globe who agitate for the real enforcement of human rights in a world that is all-too-often beset with dictators, wars and tyranny.
Among the best ways to get involved: Study the declaration to become familiar with the rights that should be common to all. And support the groups that are trying to defend them.
Three of NYXT.nyc’s content partners are front-and-center in the worldwide struggle.
Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, non-governmental agency that employees about 400 staffers around the globe to report on human rights abuses, publicize them and lobby to end them, sometimes in dangerous conditions. You can stay current on some of its current projects on the Human Rights Watch page on NYXT.nyc or contribute to its work directly.
Open Society Foundations was founded by philanthropist George Soros to help build vibrant, tolerant democracies around the world. It funds programs in education, public health, business development and more. Experience the sights, sounds and voices of some of its projects on the Open Society Foundations page at NYXT.nyc, or sign up for regular updates on its website.
The New York Civil Liberties Union defends the inalienable rights of New Yorkers by battling for equality and the right of due process through the courts and the New York State Assembly. Hear the stories of some of its battles on the NYXT.nyc New York Civil Liberties or find more recent updates and ways to support its work on the NCLU website.
Regardless of the month of the year, NYXT.nyc is an excellent way to plug into your Manhattan community and get involved. Because staying involved is, in itself, among the best ways to strengthen the quality of human life around all of us.
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