There are thirty (30) basic human rights; rights that are bestowed on every human being by virtue of birth, to protect and empower people throughout life. The world over, in all our nations, the rights of all citizens, irrespective of any demographic, physical or social differences, should be recognised and upheld.
The dire reality is that for many people, including Basotho, the free will to exercise and enjoy one’s human rights is compromised. Caused by various factors, the result is the same, with the effect being to hamper a person’s quality of life. A large number of causes for human rights violations are rooted in discrimination and prejudice. The shunning of people based on specific characteristics is an infringement of people’s rights. We all have the right to enjoy the freedoms afforded every individual on this earth. There is no facet of human characteristic from which one can feel the right to harass another person; not based on race and/or ethnicity, physical appearance, gender, or sexual preference.
Prejudice and intolerance are the results of learned behaviour. We are all born with the capacity to hate or love, the capacity to reject or accept, to fight or embrace. Our experiences, exposures and what we are taught mould and determine our perceptions and comprehension of other people and our world as a whole. The value of educating our young ones on their human rights, as well as the worth of respecting and upholding those of others, is ever more apparent.
Know your rights and exercise your entitlement to them by merit of being part of the human race. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948 – the day of the annual commemoration of Human Rights internationally. The two-year drafting of this Declaration followed the brutalities of the 1st (in 1945) and 2nd (in 1948) World Wars, a period of humanity’s history that exhibited a level of cruelty, suffering and destruction as should not be seen again. Countries came together, combining their expertise and determination to pen a document that would protect and empower people and outline the fundamental freedoms which are the right of all. The ability to apply our rights, for example the right to freedom of expression; the right to education; or the right to social security, gives people (as individuals and collectively) a greater chance to develop to the highest level of our potential.
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is causing destruction to our world that is rivalling those of World Wars 1 and 2. Now more than ever, respect and recognition of human rights is fundamental. The implementation of human rights remains an issue the world over. In a continent with countries gripped by war, riddled with corruption, and communities where prejudice, violence and crime undermine and violate peoples’ rights, there is much still to be done. In Lesotho, many of our children, women and men cannot exercise the full scope of their rights. The evolution of cultural norms, greater political will and community engagement are but elements needed going forward for things to change.
Your liberty is your human right and no one has the permission to take it from you. Our humanity unites us. Together we stand. Let us respect, accept and protect each other in pursuit of a brighter future ahead.