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  • Writer's pictureDé Bryant, Ph.D.

Part I: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I've been thinking a lot about the state of the world today. Wondering how do we, the people, get out in front of events to influence the way lawmaking affects our lives?


After the atrocities of World War II, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including periodic reviews of member states. In 2015 the UN Human Rights Council report condemned the United States for its deplorable record of human rights violations. Detention of immigrant families. Use of torture on political prisoners. Pervasive, discriminatory practices by police against racially identifiable groups: use of deadly force, racial profiling, and hyper surveillance of private citizens. 


The US response to the report's 348 recommendations was to pledge "commitment to advancing and supporting efforts in the UN system to be a strong advocate for all people around the world who suffer." Since 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States has handed down similar statements crafted to sound beneficent while actually restricting individuals’ rights.  In 2023 SCOTUS eliminated use of affirmative action in college admissions in SFF v Harvard and SFF v UNC by conflating race and admission practices. Dobbs v Jackson claimed to uphold states’ rights even as it overturned women’s rights to their own decisions about terminating a pregnancy. Voting rights legislation in states across the country are dissolving protections in place since the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, claiming these moves are to protect democracy and free elections.  


Which brings me, once again, to questions about human rights and strategies to protect them. The preamble to the UDHR is peppered with references to the human person's inherent dignity, equality, and rights. To translate these high ideals into actions to insist that governments uphold them is the work laid before us. 


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