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Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All

In Australia, everyone’s right to a “fair go” is rarely questioned. But does this ideal actually play out the way it should? 

In 1948, on Dec 10, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This was written to declare ‘the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to’. That is, it highlights the importance of acknowledging that every person, everywhere, deserves to be treated equally, respectfully, and with dignity. 

Back of young man wearing a blue hoodie and sitting in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of concrete steps.
Many people continue to live in a discriminatory society. Canva.

In the 74 years since, this declaration has been instrumental in bringing about national, regional and international laws aiming to achieve all rights—economic, social, cultural, civil and political—for all people.

So, Dec 10—Human Rights Day—stands as a significant day for all.

However, while it’s a wonderful thing to celebrate, the fact that the UDHR is even needed emphasises the reality of indignity, inequality, and injustice for many in our world. And while it has been 74 years since the drafting of the UDHR, there is still a long way to go, with many people continuing to struggle with living in a discriminatory society.

Significant progress towards a fairer world is happening, but this has been hindered in recent years by ongoing challenges like the pandemic, climate change, conflict and the soaring cost of living.

In Australia, in 2022, perhaps the right to a “fair go” for “everyone” doesn’t actually apply to everyone. For example, right now, there are over 1300 people “living” in immigration detention centres across Australia. However, “living” is a relative term, since life in a detention centre is not life as we know it. This is life with the pause button pressed. These people are unable to move on with their lives. They have limited legal representation and, without this, their hopes of being released are slim. 

World-wide, the estimated number of forcibly displaced people is 70.8 million. In addition, almost 4 million people are stateless i.e. they are not recognised as citizens in any country and, as non-citizens, they have minimal rights.

Two hands, silhouetted by the sun, tying to reach over a barbed wire fence.
People in immigration detention have limited rights to legal representation. Canva.

Human Rights Day 2022—“Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”—was recognised last Saturday around the world. The day marks the launch of the UN’s year-long campaign which culminates in the 75th anniversary of the UDHR on Dec 10, 2023. This campaign will celebrate the work that has been done and commit to moving forward, embracing the challenge of ensuring human rights for all people everywhere.

“It is absolutely clear that we need to regain the universality of human rights, the indivisibility of human rights, and we need to find a new energy that motivates young people around the world.”

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

To ensure human rights for all, everyone has a role to play. Join Glimmer in supporting the efforts of the United Nations, by spreading the word. Together we can work to ensure that every person has the right to “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice”—the right to a “fair go”.

Sources: Human Rights Day Dec 10. https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-rights-day

Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary. https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-stats/files/immigration-detention-statistics-31-august-2022.pdf

There is no right to legal representation in Australia. https://www.hr4a.com.au

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