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S & T Actions Steps for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This December marked the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It had taken the atrocities of WWII for world to be motivated to create the United Nations and to agree upon basic principles. In the past 60 years we have taken great strides towards many of these goals, yet the concept in the declaration remain weightless for many of people around the world.

2008 was dedicated by the United Nations as a year of campaigning to teach about human right in anticipation of the anniversary. Part of their website and focus was to inspire individuals to take part in their own communities and inspire others. I was personally inspired by the celebration put on by Amnesty International and their work to create the song “The Price of Silence� which was originally based off a song by the Aterciopelados, Columbia’s first rock band, called “Canción Protesta� or “Protest Song.� The Price of Silence chorus is “we are all in this together, brothers and sisters we can do better….the price of silence is much too high.� Music (which is mathematical) can be very moving, but more importantly it shows how many people are committed to these causes.

Commitment needs action and I think the UN Millennium Development Goals highlight many of the problems that needs to be solved before all the articles of the Declaration of Human Rights is met and to reach the Millennium Development goals you need smart science policy.

It’s a process. Before people can feel like they have dignity or that they are protected by laws, they need health, education and food. To achieve health or educate people need to be feed. Environmental sustainability is thus a major component of agricultural success. Even when you achieve all the basic elements to sustain life every country needs innovation to employ its people. It has been seen time and time again that when there are high levels of unemployment order tends to unravel, even in the developed world.

So for those of us that work in labs we can always think about how our work could serve the disadvantage and for those of us who work in the soft sciences we can think about how to better use science.

What are your S&T action steps?

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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