As Human Rights Day approaches on Sunday, let's take a moment to reflect on what this day means. After the atrocities of World War II, the international community reaffirmed that all human beings should be treated with dignity and respect in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Since then, while we can debate specific language or implementation of human rights, no other concept comes close to capturing the vulnerable nature of human existence and the need to protect it from exploitation and abuse. However, human rights abuses continue in faraway places and right under our noses every day.

I am reminded of the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

Premal Patel



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