ADF International

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Commemorating 10 December 1948: 70 years on, human dignity still under threat


  • Threats to right to life and freedom of religion highlighted at 70th anniversary UN event
  • I’m Human, Right? campaign urges UN and international community to take action

NEW YORK (7 December 2018) – On 10 December, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This week, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, with ADF International, hosted a panel discussion event in remembrance of the document’s adoption. Among the high level speakers were, Mary Ann Glendon, Robert P. George, Paolo Carozza, and Michael P. Farris. They focused on the foundations, achievements, and violations of the document, as well as concerns about the ability of the United Nations currently to protect foundational rights. Experts recognized the continuing violations occurring all over the world, especially to freedom of religion and the right to life.

“If we stay on our current course, we may soon arrive in a future where human rights are in danger of becoming discredited and the entire system of international human rights law may be jeopardized. Those who are inventing supposed ‘rights’ that contradict the real rights recognized in the UDHR are taking a jackhammer to the foundations of international human rights law,” said Michael P. Farris, CEO, President, and General Counsel for ADF International.

“There is so much left to do to protect these rights, to ensure that—to quote the preamble of the declaration—‘all members of the human family’ enjoy them, starting with the right to life. We must not support actions that undermine the entire framework, but rather we must come together as an international community and work tirelessly for all our brothers and sisters who suffer violations of their human rights in order to secure freedom and justice for all,” said Farris.

Our generation’s human rights legacy

To be sure, great violations of human dignity still occur. 70 years from now, people not yet born will form their opinions about our stewardship of the framers’ legacy (Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School, speaker at UN event on Universal Declaration’s anniversary)

Mary Ann Glendon, Professor at Harvard Law School, focused on the history of the human rights document and this generation’s role in preserving it, “the human rights project has been haunted from the beginning by a number of questions that have never been finally resolved. How can human rights be universal in such a politically diverse world? What is to be done when fundamental rights clash with one another?”

“The framers understood that universality of human rights does not mean homogeneity in their implementation. The standards of the declaration were made flexible enough to respond to different needs but not so malleable that any right could be completely ignored or subordinated.”

“To be sure, great violations of human dignity still occur. 70 years from now, people not yet born will form their opinions about our stewardship of the framers’ legacy. They will pass judgement on whether we enhanced or squandered the inheritance handed down by Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Malik, Peng-chun Chang, René Cassin, and all the men and women who strove to bring a standard of right from the ashes of terrible wrongs. How, I wonder, will we measure up?” said Glendon.

I’m Human, Right? campaign

ADF International’s I’m Human, Right? campaign urges the international community and the United Nations to uphold the right to life, to family, and to religious freedom as was originally intended by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So far, individuals from over 170 countries have signed The Geneva Statement as part of this campaign. The Geneva Statement and the signatures will be presented to the United Nations Secretary General.

In the run-up to 10 December and in commemoration of the Universal Declaration, ADF International hosted and participated in various events highlighting the I’m Human, Right? campaign and The Geneva Statement. These events took place in New Delhi, Brussels, Geneva, and now, New York City.

Find The Geneva Statement here and an open letter to the Secretary General here.

A video recording of the event in New York is available here.

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.