World Report on Disability: Someone Gets It

While listening, simultaneously, to the dawn chorus of birds In my garden and the 5:30 a.m. NPR news headlines, I almost switched off the radio to devote my ears completely to the birds. Then I heard a brief news item about the World Report on Disability, scheduled for official “launch” later today. The report makes the point that disability is a natural part of the human condition. Yes, I thought, pumping my fist in the air. Someone gets it. Disability isn’t abnormal or “special” – it’s just another part of what it means to be alive. [Read more]

‘All revolutions are compromised. Human rebellion is constant.’

I may not have the right translation of this passage from Albert Camus’ L’Homme révolté, but I internalized it this way many years ago. The scenes of thugs known euphemistically as the Revolutionary Guard brutally suppressing protesters in the streets of Tehran bear witness to the enduring truth of what Camus said. Be warned: this video includes disturbing, graphic footage of the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan on Saturday, June 20.

Step into the stream: #IranElection

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 60

On December 10, 2023 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The U.N. called upon all member countries to publicize the text of the declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.” The declaration lives today in new forms such as this YouTube mashup. Thanks to @AmyPotthast for pointing me to it.

It is significant in the declaration’s 60th year that its list of protected human conditions stated in Article 2 was expanded to include disability, which was achieved through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The mashup’s text comes from the declaration’s preamble:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. Read more

Dignity and Justice for All of Us

Today the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Dignity and justice for all persons are established universal principles. Since its inception, the United Nations has recognized that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world. These principles, along with equality and non-discrimination, have guided the work of the United Nations for the past 60 years and are enshrined in various instruments such as the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in treaties such as the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These instruments are among those which make up the international human rights framework, are complementary and reaffirm that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

2008 is a significant year in the international human rights movement given the entry into force on 3 May of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, legally binding instruments which set out the legal obligations of States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 25 of the UDHR provides that each person has “the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. Several articles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expound on this right to security, including article 10 on right to life and article 14 on liberty and security of person. Article 28 is more specific in that it asks that States Parties take steps to safeguard and promote that realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection, including ensuring “access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care”. These instruments mark a clear reaffirmation that persons with disabilities have the right to full and equal enjoyment of their human rights. They also mark a clear reaffirmation of the principles of ‘dignity and justice for all of us’. Read more