KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
We have 30 basic human rights, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations in 1948 to provide a global understanding of
how to treat individuals. Before I became National Youth Spokesperson for Youth For Human Rights International’s Canadian chapter in 2005 at the age of 16,
I had no idea what my human rights were, and even though the document has been around for 61 years I know most people don’t. Back in 2005, I was promoting anti-bullying
through my tune “Song of Peace,” which led me to the Stop the Violence conference in Toronto, held by Michael “Pinball” Clemons, then coach for the Toronto Argonauts.
I spoke on behalf of my generation, in front of teachers and community leaders. My three minutes grabbed the attention of Youth for Human Rights International,
a non-profit organization teaching people their human rights. They asked if I would represent their organization. After seeing their “United” music video, a street-savvy,
multi-ethnic, anti-bullying message, and their other video PSAs and printed materials, I accepted the position. I was titled National Youth Spokesperson and my first major
assignment was to represent Canada at the 2006 International Human Rights Summit held at the United Nation headquarters in New York. Human Rights is a global term we hear often, but many people can’t define. So the question is what are human rights? “Rights” are things we are allowed to be, to do or to have, simply by being human. We each own 30 basic human rights, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in my role as National Spokesperson, I have been speaking and singing my songs at elementary and high schools across Ontario. We hope to expand to the rest of Canada. I educate the kids about human rights and how it’s our responsibility to learn them and spread the word, since human rights are not taught in the schools or at home. My message to everyone is not political; it focuses on education. Even in Canada, a place of freedom, we still have issues of violence in homes and on the streets. By educating each other, we can hopefully, eventually, eliminate this.
Youth for Human Rights International presently has more than 180 chapters in over 80 countries around the world, including Australia, Denmark, Ghana, Guyana, India, Japan, Liberia, Morocco, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Uganda, the UK, U.S.A. and, of course, Canada. Last August, I represented Canada in Geneva Switzerland at the 6th annual International Human Rights Summit. I met youth delegates ages 16 to 25 from all across the globe with the same goal in mind, human rights education. International Human Rights Day is right around the corner on December 10, celebrating its 61st year of existence. So what can you do? Learn your rights! If you’re a parent or teacher share these rights with your kids or pass them along to a friend.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1. We are all free and equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The right to life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No slavery – past and present. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. We all have the same right to use the law. I am a person just like you!
7. We are all protected by the law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Fair treatment by fair courts. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No unfair detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without a good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The right to trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. Innocent until proven guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The right to privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The right to asylum. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. The right to a nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. Your own things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Free to say what you want. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. Meet where you like. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The right to democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. The right to social security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and child care, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The right to play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. A bed and some food. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The right to education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Culture and copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that “art,” science and learning bring.
28. A free and fair world. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Our responsibilities. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us.