At the conference we attended on Saturday there was a discussion group on the subject of “Wellbeing and Education”. There were some extremely interesting ideas debated, and the conclusion was that wellbeing is an integral part of schooling and education in general.
However, we did pose a question for our colleagues in schools, and it’s this:
How many of our children are aware of even a single article contained within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Here’s a quote from the UNICEF website,
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.”
The answer to our question is that you would barely find one child who knows of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even though this is a “legally binding” instrument that gives them rights to support their wellbeing.
One colleague pointed out that there’s a difference between rights and needs, but it is those fundamental needs that are the starting point for this Bill of Rights. And still we doubt that children and young people are fully aware of what they are entitled do.
We really must think creatively and quickly about how we are going to ensure that every child is aware of their rights, and these rights are, in part, based on human needs. Children and young people must be aware of their entitlement. So why isn’t this Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly displayed in every school or classroom in the country?
We’ve posted this before but are doing so again because we think it’s so important that children are aware of this document.
See also a wonderfully illustrated book called, “For Every Child”.
However, it’s not just children and young people that aren’t aware of their rights. Adults too are protected from all manner of victimisation and oppression through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These too are based on human needs, and yet, sadly, we can quote far too many incidents around the globe today where peoples’ basic human rights are being ignored, often to a fatal degree. If there was more awareness of both needs and rights, then perhaps there might be less inclination to ignore these rights. If we were all less ignorant ourselves of human entitlement, we could work collectively to ensure that these rights are respected and acted upon.
Of course, there are organisations such as Amnesty International who are doing widespread and much needed work to support those who don’t have their human rights recognised, and also to highlight governments and people who flout these international laws. Thank goodness Amnesty exists.
“Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied”, says a line on the Amnesty website.
What if all of us were to see it as our responsibility to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied? What if we go a step further, and in our own lives consider our everyday acts in relation to justice, fairness, freedom and truth?
Yesterday was International Human Rights Day. How many of us knew? Isn’t this something that should be celebrated globally? Across the world we have celebrations such as Labour Day, or Mother’s Day, or Christmas – but not in every country. Here is a day when the entire world could unite under the banner of justice, fairness, freedom and truth for all. Isn’t that something to aspire to, and something worth celebrating?
So often we sit down in the evening and hear about the woes of the world. The news is full of a depressing disregard for human rights; every single day. Yesterday was an opportunity to celebrate “Human Rights” and to actively encourage people all over the world to consider the UN Declaration of Human Rights – to consider their role in working collectively to ensure oppression is highlighted, and to consider their role in working collectively to prevent oppression happening in the first place.
Let’s hope that next year when this important day comes, it will not pass unnoticed by the majority of the population.
Let’s consider what we can do in our own lives for the many victims of injustice, but let’s also think about our own personal list of human rights. Let’s consider what we value, and how we act on our values in relation to others. A little bit of generosity and consideration for others can go a long way in life, and might just mean that the UN Declaration on Human Rights is actually considered – daily by all.