Today is International Human Rights Day, and the 62nd anniversary of the U.N.’s endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For those of us who work on human rights issues every day, December 10th can be a bit jarring, as the world’s attention focuses on our work for 24 hours and then swivels away again. We’d all love to see the energy and messages of this day persist around the year, so today I walked through our U.S. office and gathered tips from our staff on how you can do just that:
Know Where Your Money Is Going
Tip #1. Katie, our co-founder and U.S. Office Director, suggests that once every week you take a few moments to think about the human rights impacts of a product you’re buying or using (whether its gasoline or shampoo, coffee or an iPhone). Learn about the social and environmental record of the company that produced it and the country in which it was produced, about the actual conditions under which it was produced, and what will happen to it when you’re done with it. Smartphone users can use the GoodGuide app to learn about the health, social, and environmental impacts of products while they shop!
Tip #2. It’s holiday giving season and Maggie, our Development Coordinator, reminds you to do your due diligence when donating to charity. Don’t donate to an organization based only on their name or mission statement… take a little extra time to learn about the programs your donation will be funding, to make sure they truly reflect your ideals and will have an impact on the ground. Don’t forget to research their finances, too, so you know your money isn’t being wasted.
Tip #3. Marco, our Legal Director, asks you to check your investment portfolio for companies complicit in human rights abuses. If you discover any, exercise your shareholder powers and speak up about your concerns. If you have mutual funds, consider switching to a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) option, and don’t forget to ask what human rights criteria the fund uses. For your 401(k), encourage your employer to explore SRI options. Corporate Accountability International is a good starting point for your research, as is the Business & Human Rights Resource Center.
Social Advocacy for Human Rights
Tip #4. I spend a lot of time online, so I’d like to ask you to take 5 minutes, right now, to ‘Like’ your favorite human rights organization on Facebook. Then, throughout the year, help them promote their work by leaving comments on their Wall posts, sharing their posts on your own Wall, and inviting your friends to ‘Like’ them as well. If you start with our page you can scroll down to our list of Favorites and ‘Like’ them as well.
Tip #5. We all know someone who works in the human rights field and Brenden, our Development Associate, suggests that you take a moment today to personally thank a human rights defender and learn a little more about their work. By engaging and learning a little more today you’ll become a better advocate for their work in the future, and your personal connection to a cause is one of the most powerful tools for bringing in new supporters.
Human Rights at Home
Tip #6. Jue, our New Media Intern, reminds us all to embody the values of the human rights movement in our day-to-day life, through courtesy, compassion and civility. Share, be patient, and choose informed discourse over reactionary arguments (even on the Internet).
Tip #7. Even the wealthiest cities in the world face challenges involving social and environmental justice: poverty and homelessness, unsafe air and drinking water, inequities in access to public and private services, the list goes on and on. Marie, our Managing Director, asks you to open your eyes to the human rights issues that surround you every day, in your own community. When one of these issues speaks to you, get involved!
Human Rights & Education
Tip #8. Today, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights launched their “Speak Truth to Power” for students in grades 6-12. Lakeisha, our Administrative Assistant and a mother, wants to educate the next generation, and she asks you to encourage local teachers to adopt the “Speak Truth to Power” curriculum.
Tip #9. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is freely available and has been translated into hundreds of languages. Paul, our Campaign Director, hopes you will email the declaration to your friends and colleagues or print it out and distribute it in your communities.
Pass it on!
Tip #10. Finally, for human rights defenders everywhere, help spread these tips today by using the sharing buttons below to post them on your social networks or email them to your friends and colleagues.