This year, Human Rights Day signaled the launching of a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948.
“This year’s commemoration of Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of seven decades since the adoption of one of the world’s most profound and far-reaching international agreements,” said United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every human being and stipulates that every government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms.” said Secretary-General Guterres.
“I urge people and leaders everywhere to stand up for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural — and for the values that underpin our hopes for a fairer, safer and better world for all.”
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, agreed with Secretary-General Guterres, highlighting UNESCO’s mission to “educate” and “ensure all girls and boys know their rights and those of others.”
“This is the spirit of UNESCO’s work for global citizenship education, to strengthen respect for cultural diversity on the basis of solidarity and shared rights,” said Azoulay, a supporter of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which promises to “leave no one behind.”
Launching its Global Education Monitoring Report on Youth and a complimentary campaign, UNESCO “encourages youth to hold governments accountable for ensuring everyone’s right to education.”
“Human rights must be the bedrock for all progress moving forward,” said Azoulay.
Setting world-class standards in the respective fields they impact — civil, political, economic, social and cultural — the following is a list of leaders that embody humility, serve selflessly, and seek to influence a “fairer, safer and better world for all.”
Tiken Jah Fakoly is a reggae singer from Cote d'Ivoire, who has played music to "wake up the consciences" since 1987. His music speaks about the many injustices done to Africans in general and to the people of his country. His outspokenness led to exile from Côte d'Ivorie to Bamako, Mali. In 2009 he has campaigned for education under the project "Un concert, une école" (One concert, one school), through which he was able to finance the construction of a school and a college in Mali. He continues to sing for education, equality and justice.
Dr. Carol A. Janerette, founder of Janerette's Eco-Friendly Fungi, is a world-renowned botanist and environmental expert with more than four decades of progressively responsible research experience in the general area of plant physiology, and researching mycorrhizae.
The principal participant on projects dealing with environmental issues such as developing an oil spill decision tree for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and defining terms used in handling radioactive materials for the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), Janerette has served as an Associate Professor at the University of the District of Columbia and University of Delaware where she enhanced the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, conducting world renowned research on the physiology of mycorrhizae.
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the first African American female to receive a doctorate degree in botany at North Carolina State University, Janerette is a proud alumnae of Johnson C. Smith University and Howard University.
Chaeli Mycroft is an ability rights activist from South Africa, winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 and a founding member of KidsRights Youngsters, and the Chaeli Campaign, NGOs which promote and provide for the mobility and educational needs of children with disabilities in South Africa.
Born with what she sees as a gift, cerebral palsy, which has provided her a unique opportunity to speak around the world inspiring others, two years ago Mycroft became the first female quadriplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.
Social entrepreneur Liz Ngonzi is a member of the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Speaker Program, Ngonzi has served on the Steering Committee of the invitation-only President's Council of Cornell Women (PCCW), and is currently an adjunct professor with New York University’s George H. Heyman, Jr. Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising and Member of the United Nations International School’s Council for Alumni Affairs.
Ngonzi was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Cornell University after earning a Master of Management in Hospitality, from the Ivy League institution, and an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in Information Systems.
Setsuko Thurlow is a retired social worker and tireless peace activist; for her life-long work for nuclear disarmament she has been recognized by the Japanese Foreign Ministry and is the recipient of the Order of Canada Medal, the highest honor for Canadian civilians.
A leading ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) campaigner and Hiroshima survivor, Thurlow has likened her group’s aim with her struggle to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.