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Get Up! Sign Up!  - Summer 1998


Get up – Sign up! Become one in a million!

Will You take the pledge? No, I’m not suggesting you give up your pint, not at all…what I am suggesting is quite different…! You see, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) become International Human Rights Day and on December l0 this year the UDHR will turn 50. Yet, as we are all too aware, in the last five decades innumerable international wars, civil conflicts and a staggering’ range of ‘domestic’ violences perpetrated by governments and civilians alike, show how often human dignity and freedom are completely disregarded.

Some facts: Right now in 1998, 1.3 billion people have to survive on less than 70p a day; hundreds of millions of people in thirty countries – one nation in six – are exposed to armed conflict; half the world’s countries gaol people because of their beliefs, race, ethnic origin, sex or religion; one third of the wor1d’s governments practice torture; 35,000 children die every day of malnutrition and preventable diseases; and genocide, ‘disappearances’, ethnic cleansing, gang rape and the death penalty still have daily currency. All of these are horrific rights abuses but look even closer into our own community.

Here, in Ireland, are just three of the 30 articles in the UDHR which we may think are automatic. But think about it…are they always fulfilled?

Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for…health and well-being.”

Article 26: “Everyone has the right to an education.”

Article 27: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.”

The Declaration’s 50th birthday is therefore rather poignant, the celebration of an ideal and the recognition of failure to achieve it.

Amnesty International is taking this opportunity to mount its most ambitious campaign ever. It hopes to mobilise its 1.2 million members to deliver one simple, strong, message to governments everywhere: honour your commitments to the Declaration. To deliver this message, Amnesty International is assembling the wor1d’s biggest book. The aim is to collect millions of signatures from people pledging their support for the UDHR. These signatures will then be sent to Paris where they will be collated into the Big Book and presented to the United Nations on December 10th 1998, the UDHR’s 50th birthday.

So now you know what it’s all about…I bet your wondering what YOU can do to help, right?! It’s terribly simple really. You could become a member of Amnesty International yourself and join the millions of us around the world in our quest or you could just fill out this form below, cut it out and drop it to me before December, where I will ensure that it makes it into the World’s Biggest Book.

Those who have already signed up around the world include:

Mary MacAleese – President of Ireland

Séamus Heaney – Nobel Poetry Laureate

Mary Robinson – former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Nelson Mandela – President of South Africa

Bill Clinton – President of the USA

The Dalai Lama

Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Capetown

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen – U2

Add your name to the list:

Send to: Edel Quinn, Old Church St., Athenry or just drop it in to me yourself.

A copy of the UDHR is also available from me.

The Pledge: I will do everything in my power to ensure that the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become a reality throughout the world.

Signed: ………………….

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Written by Edel Quinn

Published here 03 Mar 2023 and originally published Summer 1998

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