Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Are all invited?

Written By HCO Intern Ann Bertrand:

Today, December 10th, 2023, we observe the 75th Human Rights Day. Today, we remember when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The significance of this document should always be recognized, as it was the first time in history that the fundamental rights of all humans were set out to be protected on the world stage. Drafted by numerous individuals from various countries and proclaimed in Paris, the declaration outlines 30 rights and freedoms that should be inherently granted to all civilians worldwide. The recognition of this document made immense strides in human rights history and paved the way for over 70 additional treaties. 

The present situation in Haiti is heartbreaking. Day after day, we witness the harsh reality of the insecurity that many throughout the country face regularly. Many of us are heartbroken as we hear and see more devastating updates on the country’s condition. However, it is difficult to even begin to imagine what it must feel like for those facing these circumstances. We cannot grasp the fear that rushes through the men, women, and even children who constantly worry about being assaulted, kidnapped, or killed. We can not begin to understand the trauma faced by not only those who are victims of crime, but those on the ground sacrificing their time to lend a helping hand. It’s hard to read the statistics because it is heartbreaking to know each of the numbers is a person, a brother or sister, a mother or father, a friend or neighbor, a child of God.

As a first-generation American, many of my family members are subject to this reality, and sitting down to write this, I couldn’t help but think about them. I couldn’t help but think about the human rights that are withheld from their possession daily, and yet, these circumstances continue. I decided to phone my Aunt, and I asked her to unpack her thoughts. Without telling her what I was working on, I asked her what about the country worried her the most. She was quick to respond, “The insecurity.”

Furthermore, she began to highlight these insecurities in detail: hunger, clean water, politics, disease, sexual assault, kidnapping, and murderous gangs (UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME: Haiti Assessment). Unfortunately, the truth is that this list could go on. To lighten the mood, I decided I’d ask her what she hoped for in the future of Haiti. In the same quickness, she responded, “security.” Like many Haitians and even non-Haitians, she dreams of a structured Haiti where clean drinking water is readily accessible, free education for all children, and safe streets. It was then that the realization hit me: we are not just witnessing a country down on its luck; we are seeing what I believe is one of the longest human rights violations to date.  

As I read through the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I couldn’t help but wonder why all these rights were available to me, but nonexistent to my Aunt on the other side of the phone. I couldn’t help but wonder how we, as a world, have become so desensitized to the blatant stripping of human rights that once were agreed to be deserving of all people, universally. Why should one have to wish for clean drinking water while people in more privileged countries have drinking water available to them through their sinks? Forgive me, but on a day of remembrance such as this, it’s hard not to wonder why that document also does not stand in the gap for the Haitian people? 

When human rights violations occur, it is essentially the government of the country’s responsibility to move in action. For years the Haitian people have been crying out, but their cries fall on the deaf ears of an unstable, and if we’re being frank, futile government with no elected officials. In such a case, the international community is obligated to monitor governments and their track records with regards to human rights. While United Nations conversations have been had, and Kenya has even offered to lead a multinational force into Haiti, many cannot help but wonder, where is the sense of urgency (CRIMINAL VIOLENCE EXTENDS BEYOND PORT-AU-PRINCE)?

On December 10th every year, we celebrate global human rights. Meanwhile, Haitian people have fought for the same fundamental rights for years. So, on this day, let us make it our duty to remember our Haitian brothers and sisters who do not have the privilege to find peace in what this date represents. We can stand in solidarity by doing what we can and offering our time, monetary donations, resources, and prayers to those whose basic human rights have been stolen. 

Friends, I am urging you to consider: 

  • Share the link to this article with others who can help in any way. If you are uncertain of what you can do, email us! By doing these things, you have a hand in doing something in Haiti that will last! 
  • Despite current circumstances, I petition that when you pray, you find it in your heart to believe that God is fully capable of restoring the broken Haiti to something beautiful, as scripture tells us: “According to your faith be it done to you.” Matthew 9:29. 
  • Mark your calendar to join Haitian Christian Outreach on January 1, 2024 FOR A DAY OF GATHERED PRAYER FOR THE RESTORATION OF PEACE IN HAITI. Throughout this day of Independence in Haiti, and with a concentrated effort from 6pm-8pm EST, HCO urges you to gather and pray with us! Learn more about January 1st, the day of gathered prayer HERE.