Happy International Human Rights Day!

December 10, 2022

Kara Anderson '24 and Egshiglen Batjargal '24 writing letters as part of the Write for Rights Campaign

Kara Anderson ’25 and Egshiglen Batjargal ’25 writing letters as part of the Write for Rights Campaign

By Carrie Booth Walling

Today is international human rights day – each year on December 10 the international community commemorates the day in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Composed of 30 articles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promotes a shared vision of basic human rights and dignities that apply to all people in all nations. These 30 articles include:

  • Political rights like the freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to vote
  • Civil rights including due process rights and equality before the law
  • Economic rights including reasonable work conditions, fair pay, and right to form unions; and
  • Social and cultural rights like the right to education, the ability to participate in the cultural life of your community and to share in the benefits of scientific advances

 Human beings are born with all these rights which are essential to live a dignified life. 

Human rights are:

  • Equal & Universal: Human rights must be guaranteed to all people without distinction of any kind. In practice, if human rights are not equally respected or realized this means that human rights are being violated, not that they don’t exist.
  • Inalienable: Human rights are not earned and cannot be taken away even if those in power don’t recognize them. Individuals are entitled to human rights by birthright.
  • Interdependent: Human rights are connected and dependent on one another. The violation of one right negatively impacts the fulfillment of your other human rights.

This year, the Albion Human Rights Lab is commemorating International Human Rights Day by participating in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign – the world’s biggest annual human rights event.

More than 40 members of the Albion community joined people in 200 countries to write letters, emails and tweets for people who have been unjustly imprisoned for who they are or what they believe. These letters are sent to governments, leaders and decision-makers asking them to release activists and protect people who champion what’s right. Other letters are sent directly people being persecuted for their activism or unpopular views. These letters are a symbol of solidarity and spread hope.

So far, we’ve written more than 100 letters to support human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations in Russia, Cuba, Iran, France, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, and Paraguay.

We know that writing these letters works. Often there is a noticeable change in the treatment of these individuals by the country’s authorities. Sometimes, charges and dropped and people are released from detention. Those affected appreciate knowing that they are not alone. If you want to join us, you can do so electronically by visiting Amnesty International’s Write for Rights page. And if you are still on campus, we will continue to collect letters through December 20. Just send them through intercampus mail to the Ford Institute attention: Human Rights Lab.

Carrie Booth Walling is the Director of the Albion Human Rights Lab. A political science professor and faculty director of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Public Policy, Walling collaborates with Albion College students on research and advocacy projects that promote equity, human rights, and social justice. She is the author of Human Rights and Justice for All: Demanding Dignity in the United States and Around the World (Routledge, 2022). The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Albion College.