Alberta Human Rights Information Service December 9, 2016

In this issue:
1. Human Rights Day is December 10
2. Commission releases 2015-16 Annual Report 

1. Human Rights Day is December 10

December 10, 2016 marks the United Nations' signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. For the first time in history, the Declaration set out fundamental human rights to be universally protected and provided a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations.

Stand up for someone’s rights today

International Human Rights Day highlights the importance of human rights in our everyday lives. This year, the United Nations (UN) has designated the 2016 theme as “Stand up for someone’s rights today.”

This theme is a reminder that everyone has a role to play in standing up for human rights in society. From the UN’s website:

This year’s Human Rights Day campaign, "Stand up for someone's rights today!," is based on the Declaration's fundamental proposition that each one of us—everywhere and at all times—is entitled to the full range of human rights, and that it's everyone's responsibility to uphold them. ...

The UN provides some suggestions on how to stand up for rights, including:
  1. Informing ourselves and others about why human rights matter;
  2. Speaking up when another’s rights are at risk or under attack;
  3. Standing with others’ human rights by donating, volunteering or participating in human rights events;
  4. Calling on leaders to uphold human rights; and
  5. Taking action in everyday life.

In particular, the UN calls on citizens around the world to “step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a minority group, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.”

Message from Robert Philp, Queen’s Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

“Human Rights Day is an important day where we have the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come with the protection of human rights since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and to recommit to the work that remains.

“This year’s theme, “Stand up for someone’s rights today,” is based on the principle that all persons are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities, and that we are all entitled to having our basic human rights upheld at all times.

“This year’s theme really resonates with me, as at the Alberta Human Rights Commission, we see that discrimination continues to occur in workplaces, in schools, when accessing housing, employment and services, online and on the streets.

“Over the past few months, Alberta communities have seen a number of incidents that are cause for great concern. I believe that we each have a role to play if we bear witness to discrimination. We all have the ability to take a stand. And we all have the ability, and the obligation, to defend someone's rights when we see that they are being violated.

“As highlighted in this year’s campaign, “human rights belong to each of us equally.” This Human Rights Day, I call on all Albertans to recommit to the principle that, in Alberta, all persons are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.

“I encourage all Albertans to live the values set out in the Alberta Human Rights Act and to promote the ideal that all Albertans have the right to live in a province that respects, values and celebrates our differences, which only serve to make us stronger.

“For more on International Human Rights Day, watch my video message.”

2. Commission releases 2015-16 Annual Report

The Commission has released its 2015-16 Annual Report. The report provides a summary of results achieved in the three areas of activity undertaken by the Commission: education and engagement, inquiry and complaint resolution services, and complaint adjudication. It also includes information about the legislative framework for the Commission and the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, biographies of the Members of the Commission, and listings of tribunal decisions made in 2015-16. Read the report.

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The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.

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