Developing an Awareness of Human Rights

April 2, 2015

By: Amanda C (Contributor) Edited By Ali Reza

How to Be More Involved Promoting Human Rights

Sad, but true: Human rights are ever in peril, both at home and abroad. A quick scan of local or international news headlines will reveal as much. While we all know that atrocities happen, that people are imprisoned and persecuted and killed, we do not always know the specifics, nor do we feel confident in our response. We would all like to be more cognizant of human rights issues. We all hope to become more sensitive, more compassionate, and ultimately more effective in our response. Yet actually becoming more aware of human rights issues is easier said than done. There is one obvious step, which is to stay tuned to news and current events—but simply reading news headlines doesn’t build empathy, even if it does add some knowledge. What do you do when you want your human rights understanding to become deeper as well as broader?

Start Small

Perhaps the best way to become more compassionate in your approach to human rights issues is to become more compassionate in your daily, interpersonal interactions. Perhaps the best approach is to start on a more intimate scale before you go global. As you interact with other people in the coming days, make an effort to be more aware about the different needs people bring to the table. As conflicts or disagreements arise, ask yourself why. What does the other party need, and how might you help them obtain it? How can you be empathetic, and vigilant in working together toward solutions?

Think About Conflict

A related strategy: Think about the ways in which you tend to approach conflict. When a passionate disagreement or a full-fledged fight emerges, what does your role tend to be? Are you the person who tends to use excessive force as a way of dealing with conflict? Are you more passive? Do you think your typical response to conflict is conducive to harmonious resolution, or does it only stoke the fires of further upheaval? Brainstorm on these topics now; later—when a conflict presents itself—reflect on commonalities as a way of working toward an agreement. You might even think about taking a course on conflict resolution.

Look Outside

Developing a more compassionate approach to human rights issues requires you to look inward before you look outward—developing a receptivity to the needs of others and a willingness to work toward peace and resolution however you can. You start on a small scale, then, but you ultimately work your way outward—investing some time in reading and studying up on human rights issues as they exist around the world. Perhaps the best advice to be offered here is that news headlines tend to tell just part of the story; reading on the historical roots of global conflicts can provide a greater level of perspective—an understanding not just of short-term political implications, but of underlying needs and divisions. Head to the library. Get some books about poverty in the United States, or about racism. Look for ones that take a historical, academic approach, not a polemical one; in other words, avoid books written by recent or current presidential candidates, or by people who have their own TV shows. Seek to understand some of these issues better than you do, and let that understanding foster within you a greater sense of empathy.

Leave Home

Something else you can do, though it may make you uncomfortable, is to step outside whatever is familiar to you. Leave your comfort zone. Meet new people. Go volunteer somewhere, perhaps in a place you’ve never been before—even the “bad” side of town. Make an effort to help others, but also to listen to them—and to learn. There is much you can do to show that you care about human rights—and often, it begins when you simply make an effort to engage people near you.

Human Rights Role in Establishing Social Justice

January 17, 2015

By: Jameel Oudah (From Adam’s center for defending rights and freedoms) Translated by: Ali Maash The general committee of the United Nations has submitted the international declaration of human rights which consists of thirty articles on December the 10th in 1948.  The articles of this declaration have put a firm foundation for forming international agreements which could help to firmly establish the human rights on civil and political levels or on the economic, social and cultural levels. Now, the question is: what is the relationship between human rights and the foundation of the concept of social justice? And how can these rights contribute to achieving the values of equality and justice among human beings. Undoubtedly, the right of equality is generally considered the most important human principle that nations and peoples yearn to abide to, and it also considered one of the fundamental intrinsic elements upon which the international declaration of the human rights has been built. The right of equality is unanimously considered one of the oldest and the most important, adhesive and genuine to the human race; for it is the core of all rights. For that it is unfair for any human society to be built on gender, race or religious discrimination. According to (René Cassin) the godfather of human rights; this declaration is the beginning of a long route to deep-rooting the principles of equality and justice among the human beings. Article (1) of the international declaration of human rights states the main principle of rights equality among all human beings. From the view point of social specialists, this principle is regarded the cornerstone in relation with the top important principle of justice which directs the attention to what is just or unfair egalitarian; which is based on biological factors beside psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs along with the individual contribution in others luxury. The equality in rights indicates that the idea of social justice is inseparable from the idea of human rights. Thus, social justice is an essential credit of man emerging from his own merit as an individual qualified to have a number of social, economical and political rights as it is confirmed in the international declaration of human rights and in a wide range of other covenants, conventions and international agreements such as the international covenant of social and economical rights along with the agreements that concerns child, woman and minority rights. The idea of social justice is attached to the concept of achieving humanitarian needs of human beings due to, the humanitarian of any man is incomplete and his dignity is not achieved, unless he is able to satisfy his humanitarian needs. Determining the concept of social justice and the best mean to achieve it, is often subjected to a big controversy. The outline of the concept of social justice is in constant change because the idea itself is a result of a changeable system of values and culture. Although the huge variation in defining social justice, and the uncountable definition of it, a big number of academic researches and scientific books agree on availability of certain elements to achieve social justice such as: equality, anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, equal distribution of resources and duties, social security and providing public goods. One of the common approaches in defining social justice is equal opportunity and the chances of equal life; which mean that you have an equal chance of having a good education and job just like anybody else as in having equal chances of enjoying a decent life. Everybody should be protected against life’s risks such as illness, accidents, residence loss and unemployment..etc. On the occasion of the world day of social justice, the United Nations secretary-general said: “social justice is a primary principle of peaceful coexistence within the nations and between them as prosperity is accomplished under its shadow. Since we will work on achieving gender equality or reinforcing the rights of both original nations and immigrants, we can raise the principles of social justice to a higher position. When we remove the barriers nations face whether if they are age, race, ethnic descent, religion, culture or deficiency, then we would have accomplished a big part in uplifting social justice”. This means that social justice includes satisfying man’s basic needs and sharing material resources on the basis of equality as it targets giving opportunities to everyone to obtain basic services in the field of health and education besides providing security to both deprived individuals and groups. Basing on the previous, social experts consider justice and social justice as main defense mechanism to every type of oppression and a foundation to the most equitable human resources development. As a result we can say the case of social justice that human rights principles are trying to seek and achieve is:

The United Nations secretary-general said on that same occasion on February the 20th 2014: “we have to do more in order to empower individuals in the sake of providing the opportunities of a decent work, to support people through providing social security, and to secure listening to the voices of poor and marginalized people. We have to work on continuing our efforts to achieve the millennium development goals and to write down a new development plan for the era after 2015 as we make social justice a foundation tool in achieving an equal and everlasting prosperity to everyone”.

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