Human Rights Day

Human rights day, 10th December 2021 EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights.

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.  On 10th December, ADRA, along with millions of people worldwide, will celebrate Human Rights Day.  This year the theme is ‘Equality – reducing inequalities, advancing human rights’.  As we reflect on human rights this year, we cannot help but think of the many individuals worldwide who suffer unspeakable inequality and have their rights snatched away from them.

All humans are created equal, but world economies often plunge the most vulnerable into poverty. 

All humans are created equal, but too many people live in unsustainable societies for present and future generations.

All humans are created equal, but health and vaccine injustice exist globally in too many countries, requiring a new social contract that encourages governments to pledge to be ‘my brother’s and sister’s keeper.’

All humans are created equal, but we globally need to advance climate justice to alleviate the current suffering of millions because of desertification and deforestation.

All humans are created equal, but human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse dehumanise thousands of women and children on an hourly basis. 

All humans are created equal, but we have a responsibility to each other to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and with human dignity at all times. 

All equal? What about Rocki and his human rights?

The story of Rocki Rakić, a stateless person, is a prime example of the conditionality of our rights. Born in 1992 in an informal refugee camp in Italy, he grew up and started a family in Germany and got repeatedly deported to Serbia. Rocki’s mother living in circumstances of extreme poverty, and giving birth to her son in an informal setting, did not register him with the Italian authorities. After a few years, Rocki’s family applied for asylum in Germany, where Rocki lived and fathered a son until reaching 18 when he got deported to Serbia. Rocki has never visited Serbia before, nor did he speak the language, but based on his mother’s nationality, he was exiled there nevertheless. Without any documentation, Rocki could not get employed, find accommodation, obtain health care and most importantly, return to his son. Rocki was deported from Germany three times before getting into the radar of ADRA Srbija. It took two long years of a legal battle for Rocki to obtain his documentation and become “a person”.

ADRA works with people on the margins, who are often invisible to the national systems of legal protection and social security. The ADRA project in Serbia is called Drumodom. One of its focuses is providing support for undocumented people, mostly the homeless. People without homes and their documents do not have access to services and opportunities that the majority population has. The processes are complicated and tedious, often protracted for months. The lack of documentation of already vulnerable people drives them further into poverty and adverse life situations. ADRA works every day to get them to at least formally equal positions with the rest of the population.

All human beings might be born free and equal in dignity and rights. However, it seems that the exercise of their rights is conditional on having documents.

About Human rights day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10th December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or another status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

Why is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so important for humanity?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers all of us. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. It confirms that the State has a core duty to promote standards of life that enable us to exercise our dignity and equality in more extensive freedom.  Human rights are relevant for all of us every day. Human rights include our freedom from fear and from want, freedom to speak up, rights to health and education, and enjoying the benefits of measures to advance economic and social justice. Shared humanity is rooted in these universal values. We are inter-connected. These human rights that we have in common, solidarity with each other, and fulfilling human rights responsibilities bind us together on our shared planet.

Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace. Respect for human rights and sound, the impartial rule of law to resolve disputes are at the core of development and peace. This is the reason why we are called to stand up for human rights. Each of us can stand up. We can take action in our own daily lives to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings. Because whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.  We are at a crossroads. Attacks on human rights by people who want to profit from hatred and exploitation erode freedom and equality locally and globally. This can and must be resisted.