“We must never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values: that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair — and that even though we will inevitably take losses and suffer setbacks, through it all, as long as people of goodwill and courage refuse to lose faith in the West, it will endure.”
Senator John McCain
Seventy-one years ago, on December 10, 1948, history was changed when 48 world leaders signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a collective aspiration to establish a world order based on human dignity. The document outlined the universal ideals of right to life, freedom, justice, the right to education, health, housing, food and work.
Since, this document has passed from being an aspirational treatise into a set of standards that has permeated virtually every area of international law. It has withstood the tests of the passing years, and the advent of dramatic new technologies and social, political and economic developments that its drafters could not have foreseen. Its lasting strength is a testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.
Today, human rights are under attack from authoritarian regimes across the globe. These brutal leaders have perpetrated violations such as the imprisonment of Muslim Uighurs in Northwest China, Syria’s war on civilians, the Saudi-led coalition’s indiscriminate bombing and blockade of starving Yemeni civilians, and the army’s mass expulsion, detention, and murder against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
In response to these disturbing trends, a variety of rights-respecting individuals, groups, and organizations have mounted an increasingly effective resistance. Pro-democracy protests have erupted around the globe in Hong Kong, Iran, Sudan, Lebanon, Venezuela, and much of Latin America as protesters call for accountability, transparency, and fairness from their leaders.
The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University is dedicated to advancing the legacy of Senator McCain, including in the arena of human rights and democracy. The Human Rights and Democracy program at the McCain Institute works to convene thought leaders through a series of working groups, support human rights defenders around the world and inspire and educate Americans on human rights issues.
This year, the McCain Institute’s Human Rights and Democracy program launched a domestically-oriented initiative aimed re-engaging the American public on the importance of global human rights issues and its connection to fair and free democracy. The Institute also partnered with Our Secure Future to launch a program which will lead and organize a series of activities in Washington D.C. that advance the U.S. government’s work on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Both of these programs will help advance the universal ideals outlined in the UDHR.
Today, we invite you to join the McCain Institute in marking the seventy-first anniversary of UDHR by committing to the full realization of the rights and dignity of all and ensuring those rights are afforded for generations to come.
DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute for International Leadership is a non-partisan "do-tank" that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.