December 10 is Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights (source of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action) created the United Nations post of High Commissioner for Human Rights. Internationally, there’s still much work to be done.
Here in the United States, the most urgent human rights problems include:
Sexual trafficking. The FBI notes that “Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery,” that it is the fastest growing business of organized crime, and that “The United States not only faces an influx of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors.”
Mass incarceration. This national disgrace violates, among other human rights, the right of freedom from discrimination. See these articles in:
Capital punishment. States that maintain the death penalty violate many human rights—as does the federal government which permits such violations. Moreover, conditions on death rows constitute torture—another major human rights violation. See this (pdf) fact sheet or watch the video.
Poverty. Income inequality and its handmaiden, poverty, are both causes and effects of human rights violations—including economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for human dignity (Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights).
The U.S. is marketed as home of the free and the brave, but members of the privileged class who view rights solely as freedom to pursue their own wealth and power at all costs (i.e., costs to the less privileged) are neither free nor brave. Rather, they are the slaves of their own greed and the perpetrators of their own worst nightmares.
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology