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Human Rights Day

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By Joanna Wronecka
Every year in December, the world celebrates Human Rights Day in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which acts as moral conscience to the world. It provides international norms and standards to which the world community is expected to adhere, as well as standards of achievements for all of us.

The European Union has always been a strong upholder of human rights and a supporter of like-minded countries. In Jordan, for example, four new projects in the field will start early next year in cooperation with local and international non-governmental organisations. Two of them will improve the working/living conditions of migrant workers, one will strengthen the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform in Zarqa, and the fourth aims to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls.

Human rights are not only words in declarations, laws and projects, although all pave the way towards implementation. They are embedded in our everyday life and in our practices. As human beings, we are creatures of habit. And we must admit that old habits die hard.

We must constantly remind ourselves to change our behaviour until the new practices become second nature to us. Having our hearts in the right place is not always enough. We need to look deep and hard at our daily practices and ask ourselves if we are respectful of the right of those globally recognised as vulnerable groups - women, children and migrant workers - and honestly see if we are as good as we think we are, regardless of social pressure.

To support the goodwill and the efforts of those who promote this approach, political will is very important. Governments must first put in place legislation that ensures equal rights to all, and must ensure that the legislation is enforced and implemented on one and all. Then, and only then, mentalities, cultures and norms will, with time, change.

The EU has repeatedly and publicly condemned restrictions on freedom of expression and on access to the Internet, as well as the arrest of bloggers, witnessed in many countries around the world.

On Human Rights Day this year, we pay tribute to the work of human rights defenders, and to the role the social media have played in promoting the Arab Spring’s cry for dignity and freedom. Social media have carried the voices of thousands of Arabs who have decided that it was time to claim their rights. Yet another avenue for awareness of human rights, social media must be promoted as tools of communication.

Human rights are just that: “human”. They are not rights of male vs. female, adult vs. child, rich vs. poor or west vs. east. They are encompassing all of us. Let’s be conscious of how we treat each other.

The writer is the ambassador of the EU Delegation to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

Jordan Times