It has been called ‘the Magna Carta for all humanity’. A response to the horrors of the Holocaust, its defiant riposte to totalitarianism proclaimed “…the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. And it was drafted by our namesake, the French-Jewish Monsieur René Cassin …
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first truly global human rights treaty – turns 70 in December. We invite you to join us in celebrating its vision and remembering its origins.
The UDHR was proclaimed on 10 December 1948. We are marking the 70th anniversary with two special events:
- Monday 10 December – Professor Philippe Sands, author of the acclaimed East West Street, on ‘Celebrating Jewish Human Rights Heroes’ – the contribution of Jewish lawyers and thinkers to the development of human rights. An evening event, hosted by the Jewish Museum.
- Wednesday 12 December – Professor Francesca Klug, author of A Magna Carta for All Humanity, on the enduring significance of the Universal Declaration. An evening event, hosted by JW3.
Save these dates – we will be in touch with full details of these events as soon as we have them.
“The purpose of the UDHR remains as important as ever: to safeguard human dignity around the world”. This was the conclusion of our ‘Human Writes’ essay competition winner, William O’Brien. You can read William’s essay, and the thoughts of competition judge Joshua Rozenberg, on our website. Many thanks to Joshua for giving his time and expertise to judge the entries.
The atrocities that led to the drafting of the UDHR had their roots in the nationalism and intolerance of the 1930s. Alarmingly, those evils are on the rise globally. Nowhere is this more evident than in Hungary where, in June, the René Cassin AJA Fellowship Programme visited Budapest to meet those on the front line of defending the rights of minorities.
Our Fellow, Sam Walker, found “a rising tide of nationalism consuming Hungarian political culture” and concluded “Facing adversity and attack, the individuals and organisations we met play an increasingly vital role in the protection of human rights in Hungary. It has been inspiring to witness their commitment and the courage with which they lead.”
And more on education – this summer is the third we have hosted six work experience students as part of our commitment to inspire the human rights advocates of the future.
Of the minorities bearing the brunt of rising intolerance both in Europe and the UK, few are more villified than Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Their sufferings echo those of Jews. The Nazis murdered up to one and a half million Roma and, on 2 August 1944, they liquidated the ‘Gypsy Camp’ at Auschwitz.
So, on Thursday 2 August at 12 noon, we will show our solidarity and respect at the annual Roma commemoration. We urge René Cassin supporters and members of the Jewish community to attend – at the Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park. Enter via gates at Hyde Park Corner or Knightsbride.
In another echo of the 1940s, our Campaigns Officer, Hannah Swirsky spoke to Yuri, who came to the UK seeking asylum after fleeing anti-Semitic persecution. “Given Britain’s acceptance of Jewish refugees during the Second World War I thought I would be respected and supported”, Yuri told Hannah. But his belief was shattered by his encounters with the Home Office. He came to the UK seeking shelter, but was instead locked up in one of Britain’s immigration detention centres. Read Yuri’s story.
Yuri is just one of many asylum-seekers who find themselves incarcerated – often indefinitely – in detention centres. René Cassin continues to be vocal in the ‘Time for a Time Limit’ campaign, which demands that such detention should be for no more than 28 days. As Yuri attests, immigration detention is a traumatic and lonely experience. So, we are setting up a Jewish Visitors’ Group to give detainees the support of a listening ear and a lifeline to the outside world. Read more here – If you’re interested in getting involved email [email protected].
Passionate about human rights? Experienced and expert fundraiser? Got a few hours to help make René Cassin’s Jewish voice for human rights louder and clearer? We’re looking for someone just like you to join our Trustee Board.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was an enlightened response to the populist nationalism and intolerance of the 1930s and 40s. Today, these same problems are again on the rise. Once again, human rights must be our retort. As the UDHR turns 70, please help René Cassin’s work to promote the Declaration’s vision of a world of freedom, justice and peace.
We rely on the generosity of our supporters for the funds to continue our vital work. You can make a one-off or regular donation to René Cassin via our website at www.renecassin.org/donate/
PS If you have any comments or questions about any aspect of René Cassin’s work, I would love to hear from you – please email me via [email protected]