There is a beautiful document – that hopefully you might have heard of – signed by Eleanor Roosevelt and dating as far back as 1948: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It became the benchmark for any democracy on Earth that aspires to be defined as such and established for the first time in history that human rights are not an internal matter of individual states but universal and inalienable rights belonging to every individual all around the world.
We must shout it with passion and pride: so that politics – local, national and world affairs – can return to concern itself with and safeguard the common good, it must start (again) to have human rights at the forefront of its action. Let me highlight this: I am talking about all types of human rights here – civil, social and economic rights – all budding from the same root: human dignity.
The lethal grip of Neoliberalism, starting from a certain vision of the economy, the road through which collective well-being passes, caused politics to shun human dignity completely. As a result, it has created a society where citizens have become mere numbers on a balance sheet, where they have been ordered to get up in the morning, get a knife between their teeth and go “hunt” their livelihood just like beasts. Hunger, misery and shame will fall upon you if you are not willing to “kill” to survive.
In a recent interview, as we were discussing how difference can truly be made in a particular political context in the Middle East, my interlocutor said without batting an eyelid that we must start from human rights: “Universal human rights are the only thing that all humans on this Earth share. Factors such as the national interest, are unnecessary demarcations constructed arbitrarily “. How could you possibly blame him.
So, let’s reunite people at local, national and global level, by starting to defend – with no ifs or buts – human rights. This must not only be a hope, but also a commitment. A commitment that needs our voice today more than ever.