On December 10, 1948, world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly and affirmed the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all people. In adopting the Universal Decla-ration of Human Rights (UDHR), the international community committed to building a world where all people are “born free and equal in dignity and rights” and are entitled to liberty, equali-ty, and justice under the law. As we celebrate the Human Rights Day today, on the 10th of De-cember 2013, more than six decades after the adoption of this cornerstone document, we IFMSA members want to express that we reaffirm our commitment to promoting and protecting its fundamental truths through our actions worldwide.
Human Rights Day this year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Office and is celebrated with events around the world throughout the week, exactly the same way, like it is in our case. Many challenges lie ahead of us in the struggle to promote and enhance the dignity, freedom, and rights of all human beings. In the past two decades, however, we can proudly say, that also thanks to our efforts, significant progress has been made. Achievements in the sphere of social, civil, culture rights and the right to development, in the global conversations regarding peace and security, women´s rights, people with disabilities, migrants, LGBTQ, minorities, in-digenous people, victims of trafficking, many positive changes have been accomplished.
Throughout the year we keep on concentrating on raising awareness, building knowledge, skills and raising support for those in need through numerous activities; such as lectures, exhibitions, debates, distribution of information on human rights, movie nights, peer education workshops, charity, and public campaigning. We do so by advancing the universal freedoms enshrined in the UDHR, including the freedom to speak, the freedom to assemble, and the freedom to wor-ship. When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force, we stand against this oppression through our advocacy, educational projects, promotion events, and with people around the world as they defend their rights. These rights are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
We, IFMSA members, seek to protect these rights at home and advocate for them abroad be-cause doing so is central to our identity, a source of our influence in the world, and essential to our national interests. As I have said once in the past, countriess where students and public are educated, aware and decided to respect human rights and reflect their will in local and national actions are more stable, secure and prosperous over the long run. Human rights cannot be dis-connected from other priorities. They are inextricably linked with all of the goals we strive for at home and around the world.
I no longer have to seek for an answer to the question raised by Eleanor Roosevelt “Where, after all, do human rights begin?”, because daily I am convinced by actions of IFMSA members that it is true that their begin at homes, by acting your example for promotion, protection and respect of human rights. We believe that the Universal Declaration is not just a catalog of rights and government obligations. It is a time-tested blueprint for societies that will share this world in rights and peace for many years.
We celebrate Human Rights Day every December, but advancing freedom and human rights is our daily work. We honor and implement our own commitment to human rights at home, and second, to help others gain what we have – the chance to live in dignity. We will continue to up-hold and advance these fundamental freedoms both on and offline; we will continue to speak out about oppression wherever it occurs; we will continue to foster tolerance; and we will contin-ue to work toward building a more just and peaceful world.
IFMSA supports the 20th anniversary of the 1993 World conference on human rights and to ex-presses its gratitude by its international Human Rights Day 2013 campaign “The world is changed by your example”, to those who, through and action, have made a difference and changed our world. We promise to keep up our work for human rights and peace at least for the next 20 years. As future healthcare professionals, we believe that it is our moral duty as human beings to help the humanity flower and grow.
Director on Human Rights and Peace