Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights and Genocide

Today is Blog Action Day, where thousands of bloggers from around the world use their voice to advocate change. This year’s topic is Human Rights, and if you’ve read my blog you know I write passionately about my belief that all people should be granted the same universal rights.

Before I begin my post, I wanted to share with you the history behind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to read the declaration in full click here):

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere.”

Source: United Nations 

I have always been a strong advocate of human rights. I believe that everyone is created equal and this strong belief is why I spend so much of my time writing and advocating on social good. The world is a highly inequitable place and human rights abuses are happening every single minute of the day. Human rights abuses range from poverty, lack of safe water and sanitation, food insecurity, lack of education, and inequitable global health services to the terrible impact of war, human trafficking, violence and rape, and genocide. Human rights abuses also include lack of freedom of speech, religion, sex, race, color, language, political views and so forth. The dark list of human rights violations is  difficult to comprehend.

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za'atari refugee camp

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za’atari refugee camp. Photo credit: Nicole Itano/Save the Children

In my opinion, all human rights abuses are equally horrifying and wrong. Yet one that has stuck a chord in my heart is the continuation of genocide.  When you look at the history and timing behind the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, you see that it was created to help avoid further tragedies like the Holocaust. Yet, have we truly stopped genocide? Over 60 years later after the mass genocide of the Holocaust, I am struck by how these unspeakable horrors continue to happen today. The dark, devastating tragedies of Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, and now Syria to name a few remain a raw reminder that not much has changed.

Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit:  Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Although genocide can be extremely difficult to stop, we do have ways to ease the pain of the millions of victims trapped within a civil war. Look at Syria. As millions of Syrians are fleeing the country trying to escape the horrors of the war, they are overflowing into refuge camps in neighboring countries with little or nothing to eat and drink. Relieving refugees’ plight is a human rights issue and a legal right per Kevin Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.* The UN and various NGOs are working to get aid delivered within Syria as well as to the millions of children and adults living in camps. If we can’t stop the war within Syria, can’t we help the people survive?

As Queen Noor of Jordan said to a large audience of youth in Minnesota about the tragic war in Syria:

“As in every war, the most vulnerable victims – no matter who wins or who loses – are young people. Their dreams, their hopes, their childhoods are being stolen in a war they had no part in creating, in which they have no voice. This is above all else a children’s crisis”. *

Just like the millions of families killed or left to try to piece back together their lives after the destruction of WWII and the Holocaust, isn’t it time we gave these children some hope for a better life? Hope that they will not only be alive but also have the tools and strength to help someday rebuild their war-torn country?

Related posts:

The Children of Syria: Hunger in a War Zone

The Power of We (2012 Blog Action Day)

*Jordon’s Queen Noor lays out Syrian refugee situation via Star Tribune/John Rash

Author’s note: During my years at University, I studied French and International Relations with a focus on Western Europe. I studied a lot about the Holocaust and while I lived abroad in France, I had the opportunity to visit a concentration camp in Germany which was utterly heartbreaking. Today, I continue to read quite a bit on this time period and here are a few of my recommended reads. Also, if you are ever in Washington DC, the Holocaust Museum is a must.

Recommended books on the Holocaust

-“Sarah’s Key ” by Tiatiana de Rosnay   

The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer

-“Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl”

-“La Nuit” (The Night) by Elie Wiesel

-“The Boy in Striped Pajamas” – by John Boyne

Resources to learn more:

A friend and fellow blogger Jennifer Prestholdt is the Deputy Director at Minneapolis-based The Advocates for Human Rights who has a fabulous website and publication detailing Human Rights. To read it click here. Jennifer blogs at The Human Rights Warrior.

Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change, poverty and food with thousands of blogs, big and small, taking part. This year’s Blog Action day is October 16th and the theme is “Human Rights”. 

To view other Blog Action Day posts, search the following hashtags on Twitter: #BAD13, #HumanRights, #Oct16

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