The 10th of December is internationally recognised as Human Rights Day, a day commemorating the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR enshrines fundamental human rights and freedoms for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexuality, religion or any other difference.
Human rights are interconnected with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of which will require significant mobilisation and change to attain. The SDGs aim to ensure a liberated and free future for all, thus defending human rights; yet, if their objectives are not achieved, we cannot claim that human rights are being adequately protected.
The COVID-19 pandemic wrought unprecedented global human rights crises alongside the attack on health services. Increased experiences of racism, suppressive censorship, healthcare system strains and disruptions to the workforce exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, ramifying the human rights record of many countries. Hence the UN’s apt theme for 2020’s Human Rights Day is ‘Recover Better’, aiming to address these impacts by empowering local communities.
Fighting for human rights is an active process that should involve everyone, as these inalienable protective laws impact all societal strata. The SDGs, addressing a wide range of issues including inequality, justice and climate change, require organic change and awareness in our local communities that can bolster the work of various UN agencies.
Among the specific branches of human rights pertaining to different societal groups, the inviolable rights of young people are significant. Human rights related to youth could include rights surrounding primary, secondary and tertiary education, healthcare, migration and carceral justice. It would be erroneous to think that Australia is secluded away from human rights abuses pertaining to youth; young people in detention are continually mistreated, with children as young as 10 being arrested. Children subject to life-threateningly dangerous conditions were not transferred off Nauru and Manus Island until February 2019, after the continued effort of the Kids Off Nauru campaign. 17.5 percent of Australian children under the age of 15 are living in poverty, barring their access from many necessities.
This year, we thus must remember the threats to human rights locally and abroad, and actively fight for their accessibility. Human rights are an international issue and no country is in exception in that certain aspects must be improved with urgency. Alongside importantly spreading awareness, we can support various agencies and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that advocate for a more just world.
Learn more about UN Human Rights Day 2020 here.
Ariana Haghighi is a recent high school graduate and newly inducted UN Youth Facilitator. Ariana is hoping to study a Bachelor Of Arts/Bachelor of Law at Sydney University in 2021