December 10, 2020
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” That’s how the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins. The declaration was drafted in response to the calamities and barbarous acts experiences by people all over the world during World War II. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of this historic document in moral consciousness that has been a beacon of hope and purpose throughout the world. The United States was instrumental in this effort, and Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force in the drafting the document that would become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Historically, the U.S. has been looked upon as the beacon for human rights around the world. However, in 2018, the U.S. withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). This is regrettable because HRC provides a forum to fight against human rights abuses around the world. Without the presence of the U.S. at HRC, there is concern that a void will create conditions for further human rights abuses. Our office, the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, wrote a letter to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, asking her to reconsider that decision and rejoin the world body.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a historic commitment to human rights. Our faith in Jesus Christ calls us to stand for the rights of all people in accordance with God’s wish for humanity. We affirm the value of human dignity that all human beings are created equally in the “image and likeness of God.”
As people of God, we are called to stand together and work together for the dignity of all people. While it may seem daunting to think about human rights on a global scale, Eleanor Roosevelt tells us that universal human rights begin in small places, close to home, in our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. “Such are the places where every man, woman and child seek equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Sue Rheem, Mission Specialist for International Advocacy, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
Today’s Focus: Human Rights Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Yvonne Wathen, Office of the General Assembly
Let us pray:
Gracious God, you have loved us into being. You have created us for yourself. You have created us in your image. Help us to treat all human beings as your people. Help us to work together in our congregations, our towns and cities, our state and national capitals and across the world in global partnership to achieve reforms that promote and protect human dignity and rights. Amen.