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While some dictionaries define the word right as ³a privilege,´ when used in the context of
³human rights,´ we are talking about something more basic.*

Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These
are called ³human rights´ rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone¶s whim).

They are ³rights´ because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights
are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also
there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

Many people know something about their rights. Generally they know they have the right to food
and a safe place to stay. They know they have a right to be paid for the work they do. But there
are many other rights.

When human rights are not well known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance,
injustice, oppression and slavery can arise.

Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the United Nations
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to provide a common understanding
of what everyone¶s rights are. It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.


 
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³We are all born free and equal.´ ²Article 1, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
Rights
Youth for Human Rights International maintains that children who do not know their rights are
vulnerable and easy prey for ill-intended individuals. Statistics of loss of dignity and life through
child abuse, gang violence, child labor and child soldiers are staggeringly high.

The following are current statistics in five key areas of human rights abuse.


 ²40 million children below the age of 15 suffer from abuse and neglect. (United
Nations Children¶s Fund, 2008)

$  ²100 percent of cities with populations greater than or equal to 250,000 reported
gang activity. (US Department of Justice)


 ²246 million children, one in every six children aged 5 to 17, are involved in child
labor. (International Labour Organization, 2002)


²UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 children under 18 are currently
being exploited in over thirty armed conflicts worldwide.

While the majority of child soldiers are between the ages of 15 and 18, some are as young as 7 or
8 years of age. (US Department of State, 2005)

   ²It is estimated that there are 27 million people in the world today who are
enslaved.

Every year 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders. (US
Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, 2006)

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Many organizations around the world dedicate their efforts to protecting human rights and
ending human rights abuses. Major human rights organizations maintain extensive websites
documenting violations and calling for remedial action, both at a governmental and grass-roots
level. Public support and condemnation of abuses is important to their success, as human rights
organizations are most effective when their calls for reform are backed by strong public
advocacy. Below are some examples of such groups.

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Globally, the champions of human rights have most often been citizens, not government
officials. In particular, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have played a primary role in
focusing the international community on human rights issues.

NGOs monitor the actions of governments and pressure them to act according to human rights
principles.

Some of these groups are listed alphabetically below with descriptions based on their website
information:

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally


recognized human rights for all. With more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more
than 150 countries, they conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of
human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.
www.amnesty.org


 /  0  0: The CDF is a child advocacy organization that works to
ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champions policies and programs that lift
children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect and ensure their right to equal care
and education. www.childrensdefense.org

 
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The Human Rights Action Center is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, headed
by Jack Healey, world-renowned human rights activist and pioneer. The Center works on issues
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and uses the arts and technologies to innovate,
create and develop new strategies to stop human rights abuses. They also support growing
human rights groups all over the world. www.humanrightsactioncenter.org

 
 
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Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.
They investigate and expose human rights violations, hold abusers accountable, and challenge
governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human
rights law.www.hrw.org

 

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HRWF focuses on monitoring, research and analysis in the field of human rights, as well as
promotion of democracy and the rule of law on the national and international level.
www.hrwf.net

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The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic quality of
rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. www.naacp.org

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This prestigious international Jewish human rights organization is dedicated to repairing the
world one step at a time. The Center generates changes by confronting anti-Semitism, hate and
terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews
worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.
www.wiesenthal.com


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