An extraordinary quality

Our second of seven films on fairness is presented by Mary Robinson. Below she explains why the UDHR is so important to her that she carries it wherever she goes. Join in the discussion yourself on Facebook or Twitter.

“Fairness is an extraordinary quality in life and it brings us together in solidarity that makes everyone better.”

I carry a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) with me everywhere I go. It’s a small text but extremely important. It was adopted on 10 December 1948 as a direct consequence of the atrocities committed during the Second World War. Written by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, which included representatives from all over the globe, it sets out ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.’

The first document of its kind, the declaration was written to define the rights and freedoms needed by all persons to secure dignity and worth. All 30 Articles guarantee rights that apply to all people ‘without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’

Mary Robinson pictured with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Though not legally binding, it has significant political and moral importance and is the foundation of modern human rights nationally and within the United Nations. These now encompass rights specifically relating to civil and political life, economic social and cultural life, children’s rights, refugee rights and women’s rights — things we all hold dear.

As the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, it is time for us to revisit these principles of fairness and the UDHR, as crises in the world become ever more daunting. Whether it be conflict resolution or climate change, fairness and respect for human rights should always underpin our actions to ensure our world continues on a sustainable and equitable course.

And that’s what fairness means to me.

Mary Robinson


What does fairness mean to you?

Join in the conversation by posting a picture of an object that represents fairness to you to our Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ObjectOfFairness.

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