Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What are Human Rights?

A combination of factors render people empowered and self-confident. Among the many factors, one is premodial - EDUCATION. In my case, not only am I educated (and can compete in the job market), but I'm educated in what I consider empowering - human rights. Human rights is a subject many of us take for granted. It might be shocking to you but the truth is, many people can't aptly define human rights, although it affects us all in daily life. What are human rights?

Simply defined, human rights are the rights we have simply because we're human. They're the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Many people say the definition is obvious. But it's not! To make it even more complicated, what rights are human rights?

There's a lot of unawareness about what rights are human rights. Hence, many people have been exposed to barbarous acts by virtue of ignorance. Many don't know human rights are applicable to everyone, everywhere and are absolutely empowering. As a matter of fact, knowing your rights would set you free!

There was a time I was not so sure what rights were applicable to me. The consequences were devastating. When I first traveled to Europe from Africa, I was vulnerable to human rights violations. Make no mistake about it, I left Cameroon with a Bachelor of Laws degree. This was not enough. I still didn't know what rights were applicable to me, especially in a foreign land. I didn't know what I was allowed to do and vice versa. This alone, was a major determinant to how much success I could achieve in a land where the majority of people don't look like me. At the time, I was intimidated by almost everything. I couldn't get on the bus freely, I couldn't talk freely in public, I didn't even know I was allowed to own a car and drive. All this was due to ignorance. This is the story of many people who travel abroad. Can you imagine that?

Many people don't know that human rights are international and are applicable to EVERYONE. Many mistakenly think some basic rights are reserved for citizens of the country where they reside. This is far from the truth.

Human rights are enshrined in a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is the most widely accepted document on the subject. Every right and duty on this document is applicable to EVERYONE on this planet. According to the United Nations (UN), there're a total of 30 human rights. So, what are human rights?

Watch the following video:

Unfortunately, the UDHR does not yet have the force of law. It's only a declaration. The good news is, we can do something about it simply by educating ourselves and our children about human rights. It doesn't stop there - we have to fight for our rights when trampled upon. Luckily, many human rights have the force of law in most countries. But there's a problem - many of us simple walk away when our rights are trampled upon. This is honorable, no doubt. However, for how long shall we walk away? More importantly, shall our kids be able to move away? We need to do more than just look the other way and teach our kids to do the same. Remember, those who fought for the basic human rights we enjoy today were not super-heros. They were "free thinking individuals" who refused to be silent.

Visit humanrights.com and help bring human rights to life!

1 comment:

  1. as you have rightly put it tegha this topic is a very sensitive topic and quite inspiring for those who think that they have something to offer to society.i would like to narrow down the scope to africa and cameroon in particular.it is unfortunate that the role of human rights organisations all over the world and africa in particular is only observation and thus publishing reports of these observations.there are a box full of reports that have been published for decades now but we hardly see the results.how do these reports affect the local man.one wouls expect government reaction to these reports but it is demeaning that the cameroonian government does so little or nothing at all on this subject.i see around me on a daily basis as peoples' basic rights are being abused yet nothing is done about it.well impunity is a trademark in this country bt i believe that somebody needs to speak up.i am afraid but i feel like we find ourselves today ten years backwards as far as this aspect is concerned.as you rightly said the UDHR is just a declaration but i want to belive that cameroon is a signitory to this declaration.i guess all we can do at this level is voice out our opinions.but maybe we should start thiking about just more than words.


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