Human Rights Week 2021 — A time for reflection and re-dedication to justice


We celebrate Human Rights Day across the world on December 10. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, sexuality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Human rights are inherent – you have human rights because you are human. They are distinct from civil rights, which can be granted or denied by a state (e.g., the right to vote, hold office, own property, et al.).

Human Rights Day recognizes the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations. It has been adopted by 48 nations. The United States is not one of them.

Although President Carter signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1980, today the United States is the only industrialized country that has not ratified the treaty. The U.S. originally balked at signing because the state of racialized apartheid against BIPOC in the United States in 1948 was contrary to the Declaration. Little progress had been made in resolving the contradictions between Jim Crow and genocide in the U.S. and its alleged ideals of democracy.

Fast forward to 2021, and although Jim Crow is no longer the law of the land, housing, education and many other institutions are just as racially segregated. The wealth gap between white citizens and people of color is wider than at any time since the end of the Civil War. Killings of civilians by law enforcement and other egregious violations are the focus of worldwide kickback against police brutality. These transgressions of human rights constitute genocide, as defined by the United Nations and World Court.

U.S. transgressions against human rights across the globe are as high as they have ever been. More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War and nearly 75 years after the last battles of World War II, the United States still stations troops at more than 800 locations in foreign lands. Much of the world is forced or coerced into tolerating occupation by hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.

The U.S. also enforces crippling sanctions (either unilaterally or in part) against many nations: the Balkans, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine/Russia, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. (Note that all but two of these nations are Brown or Black).

The United States says that it employs sanctions to discourage human rights abuse. The fact is that the severe humanitarian impact of sanctions and embargoes causes further harm to the vulnerable populations they claim to protect. Denial of medical supplies, infant formula, building materials, books and critical machinery is a form of genocide. Military occupation of foreign lands and sanctions are two major examples of international human rights violations committed by the U.S.

We accuse the United States of America of gross violations of the human rights of people within and outside its borders, as delineated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many of these violations rise to the level of genocide. 

Injustice does not merely affect the people who are its targets. Injustice creates a world which is more dangerous, less sustaining, uglier and less capable of reaching its potential. When we cry, “no justice, no peace!” it is not simply a promise that we will continue to fight; it is a lament – a dirge that sings of brilliance buried, potential discarded, happiness unrealized, liberty denied, and lives cut short and made miserable.

 MAKE YOUR VOICE COUNT. Join us in promoting & defending human in the United States:

  • Preview our Human Rights in the U.S. 2021 Report and learn for yourself how AFGJ is documenting, cataloging and responding to human rights violations in the U.S.

  • Report a human rights violation in your community to our human rights violations digital library/database

  • Learn more about our popular education initiative to provide training & skills-building to grassroots human rights activists, the Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School

  • Sponsor the Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School with a donation to our fellowship fund