VOICES: Recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The first idea of all people having rights because they are human, was documented in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great. The world’s first charter written on a clay cylinder in the Akkadian language with cuneiform handwriting is how he recorded the freedom of enslaved people and declared all people had the right to choose their religion and create racial equality. This concept proliferated to India, Greece, and Rome, where the idea of “Natural Law” emerged.

Records affirming individual rights include the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Rights (1628), the US Constitution (1787), and the US Bill of Rights (1791) are historical documents used as a framework for Human Rights legislations today.

The loss of millions of lives, wounded, homeless, or starving families of World War II from 1939 to 1945 brought delegates from fifty countries together in San Francisco to promote peace and avoid future conflicts. As a result of this meeting, the United Nations was formed to promote international collaboration and replaced the League of Nations on October 24, 1945.

In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the United Nations’ new Human Rights Commission and was instrumental in developing what many call the International Magna Carta for all people. The United Nations adopted this declaration on December 10, 1948, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of what we know to be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration comprises a preamble and thirty articles written as a common standard of achievement to promote, protect, and fulfill the Human Rights of all people.

Equity is the driving force behind many activists and advocacy in Human Rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 are times of success yet there is still grief!

While we have gained momentum toward all humans living in dignity and having equal and inalienable rights as a foundation of freedom, justice, and peace, we have a long way to go! In 2023, women are still fighting for equity, children are being enslaved, discrimination lives at our back doors, privacy is violated by police surveillance technology, and the right to marry is not reserved for men and women.

More than 800 people are currently living in shelters in the City of Dayton, 42.5% of renters are rent burden, many neighborhoods have food insecurities, and there are policing issues with mass incarceration. There is disinvestment in many minority Dayton neighborhoods with a lack of hospitals or quality care facilities. According to the Ohio School Report Card, the City of Dayton has an overall rating of 2 out of 5. These problems citizens are experiencing in the City of Dayton violate the Human Rights standards set by the United Nations. While Dayton has some challenges, the government is working to improve living standards for the community through the recent Platinum L.E.E.D Certification, the Welcoming Dayton initiative, adding housing as a component of Issue 9 renewal and working with the Coalition of Public Protection and Jail Coalition. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “A right delayed is a Right Denied.”

Dayton United for Human Rights (DUHR)Coalition is a grassroots organization working with the City of Dayton to declare Dayton as the first city in Ohio to become a Human Rights City. The Coalition meets every 3rd Thursday monthly from 6-8pm at the Downtown Dayton Library. We look forward to having a signed resolution before the end of the year to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe, “Community solidarity is the recipe for change.”

Tara Campbell is the principal of 5 Starz Empire, LLC. and Interim Executive President of Dayton United for Human Rights Coalition

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