In response to atrocities committed during World War II, Member States of the United Nations signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10 December 1948 under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt. This living Declaration recognizes that everyone is born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms. Among these freedoms are unfettered speech, and a life without domination, fear of harm or want. Such freedoms may not be revoked for the convenience of others.1,2
The UDHR is violated by discrimination due to national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, educational achievement, language, disability, religion, political or other opinion. These practices impair quality of life and wellbeing across the lifespan. Further, internecine and international conflict and unlawful restraint cause privation, injury and mortality to innocents. The American Association of Health Education calls for improved protection of human rights in all countries.
The Vision Statement of AAHPERD is compatible with UDHR, specifically, envisioning a society in which all individuals enjoy an optimal quality of life through appreciation of and participation in an active and creative, health-promoting lifestyle.3 Anticipating the 65th Anniversary of UDHR, AAHE encourages U.N. Member States and all people to renew pledges to and promote the Articles, and act toward one another in the spirit of brotherhood, in particular Articles 25 and 26, specifying rights of everyone to health and education:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.1
Renewed commitment to the UDHR enables each person to pursue a free, full and satisfying life contributing to the general welfare and betterment of all humankind.
1. United Nations Department of Public Information. Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Dignity and Justice for All of Us. Available at: http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/udhr60/hrphotos/declaration%20_eng.pdf.
Accessed 19 February 2012.
2. The Foundation of International Human Rights Law. Available at: http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/2008/ihrl.shtml.
Accessed 19 February 2012.
3. AAHPERD Articles of Incorporation. March 2007.
Available from the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 1900 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191.