Human Rights: 60 years

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration in 1948

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration in 1948

Wednesday 10th December 2008 – 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formed.

It’s an important anniversary, not least because more than half a century later, we’re not much closer to seeing the articles a reality.

Here’s some stuff worth looking at:

The Declaration itself

An excellent documentary: Taking Liberties

I started a petition to get the Human Rights declaration a compulsory part of the British curriculum. SIGN IT!

And ask yourself: how many of the articles can you name?

If we don’t even know what our human rights are, how can we protect them?

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Time for a little activism…

I’m not just trying to make a difference to my own life with this thing. Oh no. This is also about trying to make a difference in the wider world too. And sometimes that requires some active effort, some doing rather than thinking.

Human Rights is something I care a lot about. I’ve written about it here and also started a petition to get it on school curriculums in the UK. Well, on 10th December, it will be the 60th anniversary since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formed. And I just received this from the Every Human Has Rights Campaign:

Every Human Has Rights partner organizations have worked over 2008 to encouraged millions of people to make commitments to the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through schools, trade unions, community organizations and other groups. Now, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration is just weeks away – on December 10th. You’ve already made your personal commitment to human rights and the Universal Declaration. Now we’re asking for your help to gain more individual signatures to the Every Human Has Rights pledge. Commit to encouraging 20 people to sign the pledge. Whether it’s by, email, or even Facebook, we need you to ask 20 people to visit, to read the Universal Declaration, and to make a personal pledge to stand up for the rights and freedoms enshrined in it. To make it easier for you, send an e-postcard through our website. Over 30,000 of you have signed the online Every Human Has Rights pledge. The Elders, human rights defenders, journalists supporting human rights and others will join together this December to mark the Universal Declaration’s 60th and call on governments around the world to make human rights count in legislation, education and in practice. You can help make the message more powerful by getting 20 friends, classmates or colleagues to go online to sign the pledge. We need to gather as many assenting voices as we can in a short time. We’re asking you to reach out to 20 others in your circle of contacts. Please help us spread the word. The world has made great strides in the past 60 years – but it’s not enough. Right now genocide is still taking place. Billions are trapped in lives of poverty and despair. If we are going to meet global challenges like financial and food crises, climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, the rights of women, health rights and the rights of children, we need to work together, and demand our leaders adhere to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration.

I’ll be doing this, how about you?

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And then there were lights

Spot the difference:

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

OK yes, in one picture only 2 lights are on, and there’s definitely a different hue. But the real point is I’ve just put in energy efficient lightbulbs.

Really it should be step one on any green-minded person’s to-do list. But some how this one slipped down the list; and I really only have British Gas to thank for sending four free ones in the post.

They reckon it could shave 15% off my bills.

I have to say though the difference in colours much more pleasant too!

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Bikes v Cars (literally)

So I’ve been cycling to work every day for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been really lucky with the weather so far – cool but not too breezy, and most importantly dry.

Wednesday it bucketed it down, and I got soaked before I’d even reached my office. Is that a nice start to a long day?

Well, I’m going to fight the urge to become a fairweather cyclist.

Meanwhile, the other challenge is negotiating Hull’s busy streets. Lots of cycle lanes but there are still some busy lanes to cross. Then I was sent something from the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

It’s advice for both drivers and cyclists – maybe it’ll help us all get along better:

Motorists and cyclists: share the road

With motoring costs ever increasing, there has been a tremendous growth in the number of cyclists.

Getting back on to a bike after ten years or so can be a nerve racking experience. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) offers these handy ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for anyone dusting off their old bike and also for motorists, who must share the road with the growing number of cyclists of all abilities.

Car drivers….

DO overtake with care, not too close and not too fast.  Whizzing past cyclists within a foot of their handlebars may feel perfectly safe, but it doesn’t for the cyclist

DO leave cyclists enough ‘wobble room’ when passing them – cyclists may have to move out slightly to negotiate drains, potholes, smashed glass and other debris.  They don’t want to be squeezed into the gutter

DO check the door mirror and the blind spot before opening the driver’s door after parking to avoid knocking down a cyclist

DON’T sound the horn when near them

DON’T cut up a cyclist passing on the nearside when turning left, and don’t overtake then turn left across their front wheel

DON’T drive into the ‘advanced stop area’ for cyclists at lights: it is against the Highway Code


DO establish eye contact (in a non-aggressive way) with drivers emerging from junctions, particularly if they are turning right

DO position the bike to avoid being knocked off if a parked car door swings open

DO stop at red lights – this is a major irritation for drivers who see the law being flouted

DO undertake some cycle skill training, some employers offer this as a staff benefit

DON’T forget to check the bike lights, spare batteries and wear a good high visibility jacket/vest.  See and be seen

DON’T abuse the zebra crossing.  When riding along the nearside of the carriageway, do not swing onto the zebra to cross the road: drivers won’t be expecting that, and the risk of being hit is greater

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Check out my box

Fruit n veg

Fruit n veg

That’s right, it’s one of those organic fruit and veg boxes no-less; the ones that get delivered straight to your door.

After all, one of the points on the manifesto was to eat locally produced food and organic where possible. So this solves two of those problems. They were delivered to my door by the Arthur Street Trading Company who cover the Hull and East Yorkshire area.

I can pay by direct debit each week, and cut out the hassle of going to the shops.

I was inspired to find one while reading an excellent “chapter” on green food, on the Otesha Project‘s website, part of a book they’re writing on ethical living.

Organic box schemes run all over the UK – find your local one here.

There is a catch though: £12 for the above box: is the price sustainable?

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Time to hit the road…

I wrote a few weeks ago how, through the wonder of Freecycle, I had got myself a 2nd hand bike-absolutely free.

Well, now it’s time to use it. The delay? I needed to get hold of new lights, a helmet and chain to make it road worthy, but I’ve now tested it out, and from tomorrow, I will be a commuting cyclist!

It’s going to cut my carbon emissions down significantly as my car does many miles a week.

But, unlike what I wrote last month, it doesn’t look like it’ll save me much money. I’m keeping the car for the occassional long journey to see family and friends. That means it needs to be taxed (£66 for 6 months) and insured (£42 a month).

Can’t win ’em all eh, but at least it keeps me green!

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What to do with an old computer?

My laptop is five years old, and to be honest it’s crap. It’s got 20GB of memory which is filled up, and a ram so small it struggles to load MS Word sometimes.

So the plan is to get rid of it soon and buy a new bigger better faster one.

But here’s something I’m now determined not to do – to see it head into the system which allows stuff like this to happen:

I used to live in Ghana and it’s a beautiful country – things like this shouldn’t be allowed.

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