Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Elder and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
“The objective of all human rights action is simply this: to ensure a life of dignity for eachperson on this earth. The question is: How? What makes sense to people who live acomfortable, secure life may make no sense at all to those living on the margins of society.
This is a problem I am aware of every day in my job. I nd that two words help me a lot in
dealing with this problem: ‘respect’ – really listing and hearing each side’s point of view –
and ‘responsibility’ – nding the balance between securing my own rights and learning to
live by them responsibly so that some else is not deprived of their rights”.“Another word I use often is “together”. I believe the old Native American saying: “the hurtof one is the hurt of all.” A single abused child is a scar on the face of the global family.
Our lives will not be completely dignied until we can all achieve a basic level of dignity”.“This is a difcult task. Your generation faces the most daunting challenges as we moveinto the new millennium. Trafcking in children, environmental destruction, civil wars,
corruption, inequality, nuclear proliferation,. I believe we can only tackle all of theseproblems if we build our society on solid foundations of human rights – the principles of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights which are as relevant today as they were when theywere written in 1948”.“Human rights work never stops. Many laws and treaties have been passed, but theyneed to be implemented. We must always be vigilant. 60 years ago, children did not talkabout human rights. In fact, nobody did. Now – thanks to the work done since then, and totelevision and the internet, we can know immediately if some one’s human rights are being
abused, even if it is happening very far away. Yet abuses continue, which is why this 5thbook in your series is so important: without human rights – without peace which ows from
human rights and justice being observed – all the money and sustainable development inthe world means nothing”.
“You are starting out on a journey through life in which, at every stage, you must defend
your own rights and the rights of others young people around the world. If you are readingthis – and not having it read to you – you already have more human rights than thosewho were never taught to read. We have come a long way in the last 64 years: there aredouble the number of democratic governments than there were back then; apartheid andcolonialism have almost disappeared and more people arefreely expressing their views, and living their chosen lifestylesthan ever did before. But we still have a long way to go:millions of women and young children, especially young girls,are abused every day. Human development will never besustainable until the rights of all are observed – and that is notsomething that comes just from the decisions made in courts
of law. It ows from the values we embed in our own, and our
families’ hearts and minds in every word we speak, in everylook we make, in every decision we take”.
by Mary Robinson