Today, CUPE Ontario joins people around the world in celebrating International Human Rights Day. Seventy-three years ago today, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document that set the foundation for universal basic human rights.

From its inception, the UDHR was a collaborative document. Representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world contributed to its formation, ensuring that their perspectives, expertise, and insights were part of the declaration process. The result was a document that has served as a global touchstone for human rights and has been translated into more than 500 languages.

While the impact of the UDHR is undeniable, the pandemic has shown us that much work remains in the fight for human rights. Our “Anti-Black racism is a public health crisis” campaign, “We Believe You” campaign, Orange Shirt campaign, and many others, all speak to the gap between the rights outlined in the UDHR and the daily realities of many people.

We must work together in coalition and in community to close this gap, drawing on the experience, insights, expertise of members to achieve change.

Earlier this week, during three virtual conferences, CUPE Ontario elected representatives for the Racial Justice, Pink Triangle, Workers with Disabilities, Young Workers, Indigenous Council, and Women’s committees. These representatives were drawn from members and elected by members through and open and democratic process. They are workers, community members, parents, siblings, and loved ones who continue the vital work of protecting human rights.

Today, as we reflect upon a legacy built 73 years ago, we honour the work that has been done, acknowledge the work that remains, and celebrate the people from all backgrounds and regions working daily to protect freedom, justice, and peace.