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International Human Rights Day

December 10, 2020

Each year, on December 10, people across Saskatchewan and around the world observe International Human Rights Day. It is a day to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

This Declaration was the world’s response to the horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust. It recognizes that every human being deserves equal moral consideration, that every person is a member of the human family, and that human rights are universal — to be enjoyed by everyone, no matter who they are, what they believe, or where they live.

The theme for this year’s International Human Rights Day – “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” – focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to keep human rights central to our recovery efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and magnified many pre-existing inequalities in society. Concerns have been raised about the impact the pandemic has had upon specific groups, including seniors, women, people with disabilities, and racialized/marginalized groups.

  • Age discrimination has been one of the defining features of the pandemic.
  • Incidents of online hate speech and real-world hate crimes have increased.
  • Reports of racial discrimination have increased across the country.
  • Women have experienced differential employment, financial, and household responsibility impacts, along with increased incidents of domestic violence.
  • People with disabilities are concerned that they will be triaged out of healthcare and that their essential care will be disrupted.

Stereotypes, assumptions, and biases about disability, age, and race or perceived race that have been magnified by the pandemic need to be addressed through effective practices and policies. Given the impact on individuals and livelihoods, every response should consider the promotion and protection of human rights, and the mitigation of potential discrimination.

As members of one human family, we will only reach our common goals if we can:

  • create equal opportunities for all,
  • address the human rights issues that have been exposed by COVID-19, and
  • use a human rights lens to tackle engrained, systemic, and intergenerational discrimination, inequality, and discrimination.

We must all stand up for human rights and reaffirm their importance in rebuilding the province and world we want. The equality, dignity, and respect that human rights ensure are fundamental to the success of our pandemic