Human Rights in the United States
Core Message: It is better for everyone to live in a society that pays attention to human rights, rather than one that ignores human rights.
- Lead with values. Fairness, dignity, opportunity, and references to America’s founding principles. Connect human rights issues to these values, drawing particularly on American experiences and history, and our continuing struggle to make our founding ideals a reality.
- Start conversations with the goal—upholding human rights—rather than the process. U.S. audiences have almost no knowledge of treaties and mechanisms and care less about their existence than they do about the conditions these vehicles are meant to address.
- Understand concerns around the role of government. It’s important to express government’s role in terms of “protecting” instead of “providing” rights and to point out cases in which the government has successfully protected social and economic rights, such as with Social Security and Medicare.
- Our nation was founded on the idea that we all have basic rights. American leadership in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reminder of how central this notion of rights is to our national values.
- But it also reminds us that we have a long way to go to uphold these rights for everyone here. The Universal Declaration talks about health care, housing, freedom from torture, and our right to privacy, among other things. Many of these basic rights are in growing jeopardy, with Wall Street’s mismanagement and greed forcing millions out of their homes and with policies that condone torture and invade our privacy.
- Let’s return to a nation that strives to respect and protect the rights all humans share, by working together to pass legislation that further protects our life, liberty, and chance at fulfilling the American Dream. In turning the tide, we can return to important documents like the Universal Declaration that remind us of what kind of country we really want to be.
- Learn about the Universal Declaration at www.un.org/en/documents/ udhr and join this year’s Human Rights Day activities on December 10.