Our Task

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After long debate in the General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the wee hours of the 10th of December, 1948 by the United Nations. Even though the UDHR has been in existence for almost 60 years---and it is the most translated document in the world--many people neither suspect its existence nor realize the positive impact that it could have on their lives. Our task is clear.

Shortly before the Declaration’s adoption, Eleanor Roosevelt---well aware that many governments would not publicize these rights---was quoted in the New York Times newspaper as saying: “…a curious grapevine may seep in even when governments are not anxious for it.”  Surely, she had civil society, that is, associations, clubs, unions and NGOs in mind.

 Our small task force, in cooperation with other NGOs, UN agencies and you will seek to be the grapevine that carries the message everywhere. Eleanor Roosevelt had no knowledge of how easy, rapid, and inexpensive communication in the information age would become. Through our contacts, we have the potential---and intention---to reach millions of people across the globe. NGOs with their worldwide affiliates can send this information where it can be translated, printed and aired locally. Everyone who cares about human rights can participate in sending it further.The woman who insisted that the Declaration be written in terms that anyone could understand, also said:

Where after all, do human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Ye they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world”.

There can be no greater task for us as citizens of the world than to rescue the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt. In so doing, we shall enrich our families, our communities, our nation, our world and ourselves.