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Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment [FLARE]

Jun 23, 2008, 7:14 AM

Celebrating 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was proclaimed in 1948, at a time when most of the world was under colonial rule, stands even today as one the most eloquent statements about the dignity of man. Following this historic Declaration, the Assembly of the United Nations called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

It is in recognition of this duty and the importance of the respect for Human Rights and freedoms as indispensable requirements for the maintenance of not only peace and security but also the socio-economic and political development of all human beings that that Foundation Legal Aid Research Empowerment [FLARE] wishes to take up the challenge to disseminate the Declaration in the Gambia.  We wish to embark on a wide range of activities for the purpose of promoting the Declaration so that as many Gambians and Africans as possible have access to the ideals and principles expounded in the Declaration of 1948!

 The promotion and protection of human rights is in the interest of every human being regardless of your position in life. On the one hand, the violation of the Human Rights and freedoms is not in the interest of any individual regardless of your position in life. Not only does the violation and disregard of rights and freedoms give rise to conflicts and entrench poverty among other social ills, but also those who violate or disregard rights, even remotely, are complicit in limiting their own rights and freedoms. Promoting rights triggers and engenders the socio-economic development of both the individual and society as a whole. Protecting rights and freedoms ensures peace and stability, and opens up a world of opportunities for individuals and societies to explore their potentials as they find ways and means to develop and advance. It is half the solution in national development for any nation in which human rights and freedoms are promoted and protected. This goes to say that rights and freedoms are not merely a political issue, but are also integral to the socio-economic life of the individual and society. In other words, human rights and freedoms are development issues.

Ultimately FLARE wishes to use this 60TH Anniversary celebration as a campaign to enable ordinary individuals, intellectuals and the elites and the institutions that they run realize the developmental nature of Human Rights and freedoms, which come first before bread and butter, and in fact, it  lays the foundation on which bread and butter are secured in an environment of peace and stability.

Therefore, in consideration of the above, FLARE looks at Human Rights and freedoms as a matter of capacity building and empowerment in which rights and freedoms are seen as a pedestal on which a human being stands to dare and to explore every vista of his or her vast potentialities and make mistakes in the enduring quest for self-actualization, acquisition of knowledge, development of the  personal and the commonwealth and the perfection of the spirit.

As a human rights civil society organization, FLARE holds the view that human rights lies at the core of peace and development. Without the respect for rights and freedoms not only is peace unattainable, but the path to socio-economic growth and political independence are also compromised. This is because rights and freedoms enable a human being to seek and acquire the means and tools willingly to direct his or her own development either individually or collectively. Where this opportunity is lacking human beings fail to reach their full potentials and become the victims of domination, exploitation, oppression, ignorance and poverty. From this perspective, it is clear that anywhere you have enslaved or colonized people; the end result is widespread and excruciating poverty, diseases and general underdevelopment as that which characterized Africa during the periods of the Atlantic Slave Trade, Colonialism and Apartheid over the past 400 years. The current underdevelopment of Africa can still be largely explained in the light of the limited respect for Human Rights and freedoms in the course of the current post-Independence era.

For these and other reasons FLARE wishes to embark on the promotion of Human rights and freedoms with specific reference  to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in many ways contributed to the decolonization process in Africa and other parts of the world, and have since then influenced numerous constitutions around the world. The campaign for the promotion of Human Rights will focus mainly on sensitization activities carried out in the media through articles, essay and quiz competitions and engagement with the general public through lectures and discussions. Particular attention will be placed on schools because of the fact that children, among all sectors of the population, need to be nurtured in a culture  that resonates with the ideals and concepts of Human Rights and freedoms so that they will internalize them as a way of life and a philosophy to direct their behaviour.

 By targeting children we are sowing the seeds for a democratized society in future given that young people will become the leaders eventually. It is envisaged that the challenges that Africans face today will be surmounted if we produce children who grow into adulthood armed with the ideals of Human Rights and freedoms. It is safe to say that with this strategy we will definitely usher in a more democratic future for our people and consequently speed up our development process by many folds.

The campaign will round up by 10th December 2008,  during which time we hope many stakeholders, institutions, and organizations in the public and private sectors as well as in the civil society community will be engaged to partner with FLARE in promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The aim of this campaign is to publicize the Declaration as widely as possible so that many more people in the Gambia and beyond can have access to the ideals and principles of the Declaration. In this regard, we envisage that if the Declaration is well promoted it will lead to or contribute to the following:

i.          To promote and protect issues of rights and freedoms in the country and beyond;

ii.          To promote a culture of rights and democratic behavior among members of society;

iii.         To ensure the protection of rights by duty bearers and the demand for rights by rights holders;

iv.         To promote and ensure sustainable peace and development and restore the dignity of human beings free from ignorance, exploitation and oppression in all forms;

Thank you for reading through and FLARE expects to see you actively participate in any of its future events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.