Recognizing Your Rights: Universal Human Rights Month

Nicole Martin, Copy Editor

During December, people all around the nation gather together in recognition of human rights — the inalienable liberties that all humans are entrusted with the moment they are born. 

Universal Human Rights Month is specifically observed on Dec. 10, the day the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, a document which proclaims that every human is born with certain rights that cannot be taken away regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. However, the holiday is recognized throughout the month of December after former president George W. Bush declared it a national holiday.

Every year, Universal Human Rights Month revolves around a specific theme; the theme for this year is equality, which focuses on the fact that human rights are founded upon the principles of equality and nondiscrimination. With this theme in mind, the UN is currently aiming to address and find solutions for the root of many of these discriminatory problems, which typically target LGBTQ+ youth and adults, migrants, handicapped persons and several other marginalized groups.

To recognize the month, Miami Palmetto Senior High’s Amnesty International Club and Model UN teamed up to celebrate Universal Human Rights Day on Friday, Dec. 10th. 

In celebration, the clubs hosted a table during both lunches where students could learn about their rights, how to advocate for them, sign up to join Amnesty and/or Model UN and take a quiz based on their knowledge of basic human rights to receive candy as a prize.

“We featured five important human rights causes to support. Those passing by the table were able to learn more about each cause. We also offered a QR code leading to the Amnesty International website, which informed [students] on how to take action,” Palmetto junior and Amnesty Club president Lexi Blackwell said.

Above all else, it is important to recognize why people celebrate Universal Human Rights Month in the first place, and why the need to celebrate the holiday is so crucial to understanding how our rights play into understanding ourselves and the world around us. 

“People need to recognize that the rights on the UDHR as outlined by the United Nations are taken for granted, or some countries or peoples don’t recognize these things as human rights, as concepts, [or] as freedoms that any and all persons on this Earth are entitled to,” Palmetto senior and Model UN Director of Training and PR Coordinator Josie Blohm said. “It is very important because especially in the United States, we take advantage of these rights. Our Bill of Rights protects these rights but knowing that there is a supranational organization to protect these rights makes it all the more pressing that we recognize each individual human right to know when they’re being infringed upon.”

Furthermore, Sydney Hochstadt expresses the importance of acknowledging one’s rights and bringing about change through the celebration of Human Rights Month.

“It’s so important because it reminds us that there’s so many people that don’t have what we call basic human rights. It makes us appreciate what we have and sympathize with those who have less. It’s a celebration of human rights and an acknowledgment of the lack of such. We need to commemorate it so that people can stop turning the other way for a second, and change can be brought about,” Palmetto junior and Amnesty Club Vice President Hochstadt said.

There are multiple other ways Amnesty Club and Model UN help to spread the importance of Universal Human Rights Month. Outside of hosting the lunch sessions, Amnesty Club provides resources to petitions for wrongful imprisonments where there has been a violation of one’s human rights. Students can sign and promote these various petitions to others.

“We always try to include a letter or petition for everyone, including ourselves, to write and sign in our meetings. We tell all our club members about a different issue every meeting and often do activities like flyer competitions where everyone tries to make the best flyer promoting the issue. The board members do all of these too,” Hochstadt said.

In addition to the Dec. 10 event, Model UN and Amnesty Club encouraged students to wear the color yellow to signify their support of the day.

“The significance of the color yellow for human rights day goes back to a more historical sense. It can be seen that the color yellow is a color of happiness and hope, and a big idea of advocating for human rights is advocating for the betterment of tomorrow and advocating for the people of today to be safe in tomorrow’s realm,” Blohm said. “We chose yellow because it signifies that hope and that idea that tomorrow will be better and that tomorrow will be a happier place.”

Even with a national holiday to highlight the importance of our rights as human beings, it remains crucial that we continue to support and advocate for human rights all year, not just during the month of December. Blackwell and Blohm have provided ways that one can continue to fight for human rights.

“People can help advance the message of advocating protecting human rights through taking actions against injustices. This can be done in multiple ways such as petitioning or writing to a government official. Additionally, they can use social platforms to spread messages as well as use their voice whenever possible,” Blackwell said.

Furthermore, Blohm expresses how people can advocate for human rights in their community by knowing their rights, exercising them and speaking out when they see a violation of said rights. 

“People can advance the message of protecting human rights by learning about their rights, and when and if they see a violation of these rights, to speak out and make sure [their] voice is heard,” Blohm said. “For example, one of the human rights is the right to be free, another one is the right of nationality… Some of these rights are commonplace here in the U.S., especially with marriage, equality and freedom of speech. However, in other third-world countries these rights that we have in the U.S. are not commonplace. People get put in jail or severely punished for speaking out against their government, but in reality, these are their rights as humans, and they have the right to speak their minds and have the right to advocate for themselves.”