The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

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Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States, chair of the drafting committee, holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. UN Photo (1949)

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

Let’s stand up for equality, justice and human dignity

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Human Rights Day kicks off 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, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.  

#StandUp4HumanRights

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all.
  • Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day.
  • Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values.
  • Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace.
  • Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.
  • We need to stand up for our rights and those of others.

Does World Heritage Status Harm Cities?

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We have all recently been hearing about the protests by Venice residents who came out in opposition of excessive tourism and in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper,  the story of Malaysia’s George Town was outlined.  The World Heritage status increased tourism and as a result has overwhelmed the local residents in that UNESCO World Heritage listed town.

As reported by the Guardian, Chew Jetty in Malaysia’s George Town attracts thousands of tourists but the price is too great for that historic town where homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs and tour buses deposit vacationers from early in the morning until well after sunset. The locals report daily intrusion where tourists sometime enter homes uninvited and windows are boarded and “no photo” signs are unescapable. 

The “clan jetties” on the outskirts of George Town on Penang Island, were a bustling seafront hub, where stilt houses and sheds, stretching along a line of wooden piers each bearing the surname of its Chinese clan, reminded the visitor of the Malaysia’s old Chinese settlements. According to the Guardian, the seven remaining jetties survived two world wars and Japanese occupation, but as the decades wore on the piers deteriorated.  The victory was when their application to be granted the UNESCO‘s designation status was approved. In 2008 the clan jetties were awarded UNESCO world heritage status – though not before two of the clan enclaves were razed to make way for a housing complex.

That victory gave the residents the protection from the developers, but, not from the tourists and today the “clan jetties” are facing what many other cities like Venice, Barcelona and Prague are facing and according to many reports, the local residents are fed up.  There have been many discussions and the phenomenon has even been given a name by Italian writer Marco d’Eramo, who argues that UNESCO preserves buildings but allows the communities around them to be destroyed, often by tourism. He calls it “Unesco-cide” (as reported by the Guardian).  According to more experts the UNESCO designation can be a potential major money maker for the city or the site.  On the other hand, the waves of tourists who will be coming to come and visit the site/city over many years could bring with them many problems. 

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

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The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route”, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Director-General of UNESCO invites the Ministers of Culture of all Member States to organize events every year on that date, involving the entire population of their country and in particular young people, educators, artists and intellectuals.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999). Cultural events and debates too were organized. The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called “Indiennes de Traite” (a type of calico) which served as currency for the exchange of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Archaeologists uncover ancient trading network in Vietnam

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A team of archaeologists from ANU has uncovered a vast trading network which operated in Vietnam from around 4,500 years ago up until around 3,000 years ago.

A new study shows a number of settlements along the Mekong Delta region of Southern Vietnam were part of a sophisticated scheme where large volumes of items were manufactured and circulated over hundreds of kilometres.

Lead researcher Dr Catherine Frieman School of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology said the discovery significantly changes what was known about early Vietnamese culture.

“We knew some artifacts were being moved around but this shows evidence for a major trade network that also included specialist tool-makers and technological knowledge. It’s a whole different ball game,” Dr Frieman said.

“This isn’t a case of people producing a couple of extra items on top of what they need. It’s a major operation.”

The discovery was made after Dr Frieman, an expert in ancient stone tools, was brought in to look at a collection of stone items found by researchers at a site called Rach Nui in Southern Vietnam.

Dr Frieman found a sandstone grinding stone used to make tools such as axe heads out of stone believed to come from a quarry located over 80 kilometres away in the upper reaches of the Dong Nai River valley.

“The Rach Nui region had no stone resources. So the people must have been importing the stone and working it to produce the artifacts,” she said.

“People were becoming experts in stone tool making even though they live no-where near the source of any stone.”

Dr Phillip Piper of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology, an expert in Vietnamese archaeology, is working to map the transition from hunting and gathering to farming across Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam has an amazing archaeological record with a number of settlements and sites that provide significant information on the complex pathways from foraging to farming in the region” Dr Piper said.

“In southern Vietnam, there are numerous archaeological sites of the Neolithic period that are relatively close together, and that demonstrate considerable variation in material culture, methods of settlement construction and subsistence.

“This suggests that communities that established settlements along the various tributaries and on the coast during this period rapidly developed their own social, cultural and economic trajectories.

“Various complex trading networks emerged between these communities, some of which resulted in the movements of materials and manufacturing ideas over quite long distances”

The research has been published in the journal Antiquity.

as reported per Australian National University

Mystery of 8,500-year-old copper-making event revealed through materials science

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An international team of archaeological scientists have put an end to the more than half-a-century old claim about the earliest copper smelting event at the Late Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey – one of the world’s best-studied prehistoric archaeological sites.

Scholars have been hotly debating the origins and spread of metallurgy for decades, mainly due to the relationship this technology had with the rise of social complexity and economy of the world’s first civilisations in the Near East.

Whether metallurgy was such an exceptional skill to have only been invented once or repeatedly at different locations is therefore still contentious. The proponents of the latter have just provided conclusive evidence of the incidental nature of what was held to be the key find for the single origin of metallurgy claim.

Published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the re-examination of a c. 8,500-year-old by-product from metal smelting, or ‘slag’, from the site of Çatalhöyük presents the conclusive reconstruction of events that led to the firing of a small handful of green copper minerals.

“From the beginning of our study it was clear that the small handful of ‘slag’ samples were only semi-baked. This indicated a non-intentional, or accidental copper firing event, but the ‘eureka’ moment of how and why that happened arrived quite late”, says Dr Miljana Radivojevic, lead author and researcher at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.

“The co-authors had a lengthy debate about why the semi-baked copper minerals were deposited in a burial, but then when our pigment specialist (Camurcuo?lu) mentioned earlier examples of green and blue copper pigments in graves and our excavation specialist (Farid) reported firing events that charred bones and materials in the shallow graves, the penny started to drop”, she explains.

“The native copper artefacts from the site of Çatalhöyük were not chemically related to this non-intentionally produced metallurgical slag sample”, adds Professor Ernst Pernicka, of the University of Heidelberg, further strengthening the claim these authors elaborated in the article.

Professor Thilo Rehren, of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, explains the significance of these results: “The invention of metallurgy is foundational for all modern cultures, and clearly happened repeatedly in different places across the globe. As we have seen, not every piece of semi-molten black and green stuff from an excavation is necessarily metallurgical slag. Only materials science methods, in combination with good archaeological records, can distinguish between debris from intentional metal smelting and accidental waste from a destructive fire”.

“It has been a long journey for the materials now identified as vitrified copper minerals to be recognised as once important solely for their colour properties, and we can finally put this debate to rest”, comments Professor Ian Hodder, from Stanford University, who has been directing the excavations of Çatalhöyük for the past 25 years.

Article Source: University of Cambridge news release

‘Striking’ Face of 4,500-Year-Old English Man Revealed

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excerpt from –  Live Science………

The face of a man who died in England around 4,500 years ago has been reconstructed, revealing a “striking” image that should help humans alive today feel a personal connection, researchers said.

The man’s remains were excavated in the 1930s and 1980s at Liff’s Low bowl barrow, a burial mound located in Derbyshire, England. He was found buried with a type of pot called a beaker and a stone pendant that was likely worn on a necklace, the researchers said.

Anthropological analysis done in the 1980s found that the man was about 5 feet, 7 inches (1.7 meters) tall and was between the ages of 25 and 30 when he died, said Claire Miles, a collections assistant at the Buxton Museum. The anthropologists at the time found that the man had a fracture in his left elbow that had “healed poorly,” Miles said, noting that the cause of the man’s death is unknown.

The museum commissioned Face Lab, a team of forensic specialists at Liverpool John Moores University, to reconstruct the man’s face ahead of an exhibit featuring his remains scheduled to open in September. 

 

International Day of Families May 15

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The International Day of Families, annually held on May 15, celebrates the importance of families and the work started during the International Year of Families.

 

International Day of Families promotes the importance of a healthy and well-balanced family.©iStockphoto.com/Ekaterina Monakhova

What Do People Do?

A wide range of events are organized at local, national and international levels. These include: workshops, seminars and policy meeting for public officials; exhibitions and organized discussions to raise awareness of the annual theme; educational sessions for children and young people; and the launch of campaigns for public policies to strengthen and support family units. In some countries, tool kits are created to help people organize celebrations aimed at a particular section of the population, such as school children or young adults.

Background

The year 1994 was proclaimed as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was a response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the globe. The International Day of Families, on May 15, is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994 and to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of transatlantic slave trade victims.

What Do People Do?

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

Background

About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa’s economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade’s causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.