Shared Humanity - Our Vision
What do human rights really mean? Human rights represent a fundamental recognition and assertion of our dignity as human beings; our right to be free from the sufferings inflicted on humankind by the forces of inhumanity. Yet, for all of the achievements of humankind, we are still somewhat defined by our capacity to perpetrate horrendous cruelties on each other. Within the last two decades gross human rights violations have exacted a terrible toll: from the concentration camps of Bosnia, to the slaughter in Rwanda, to today's atrocities in the dusty plains of Darfur - the strong continue to tyrannise the weak. In the face of such darkness, the only question becomes: do we sit resigned in despair that things cannot get any worse, or do we aspire to make things better?
Human rights must be seen as more than a remote dream confounded by the reality of the world; they must exist as our ethic in this moment, or they will not exist at all. If we truly believe that human rights are inherent and fundamental, and not just privileges bestowed on us by temporal authorities, then we must also realize that we are the international community - abstract notions about power (and our corresponding sense of individual powerlessness) only allow us to evade our sense of personal responsibility. A well-known quotation from Pastor Niemoeller (a victim of the Nazis) bears repeating:
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If we do not protect the rights of others, we cannot expect ours to be protected. If we hold our human rights to be important, we must act when the rights of any part of humanity are violated. Inaction is a conscious choice.
Crimes such as genocide are particularly important because they attack the very humanity of people. This attack on humanity requires a human response, a response of humanity as a collective. Unless we actively seek to enforce human rights, to protect the weak from the strong, the next Hitler, the next Pol Pot, the next Milosevic will be emboldened to act. They will perpetrate brutal violence, they will strip us of our very dignity, and they will succeed - if we allow them. The time has come to stand for humanity.
Shared Humanity is a non-government organisation dedicated to working towards the elimination of gross human rights violations (human rights violations that are extreme and systematic or widespread). Shared Humanity seeks to accomplish this mission by increasing public awareness and advocating for a more effective response to atrocities.
Peace through Rights
Rights through Action
Action through Awareness
Our motto also describes our purpose and rationale. We believe that through increasing awareness about gross human rights violations we can act as a catalyst for meaningful action that will protect human rights today. We also maintain that the realisation of human rights is of fundamental importance for all of humankind to live in peace.
About our Name
Shared Humanity. The word "humanity" was chosen because of its dual meaning: humanity as the human value of empathy and compassion, and humanity meaning humankind as a unified whole. The phrase "shared humanity" also has a particular meaning: we are all equally human, thus, we share our humanity. Moreover, our humanity, our human rights cannot exist autonomously of each other. We must defend the rights of humanity as a whole if our own rights are to be upheld. Human rights are a shared endeavour and the elimination of gross human rights violations can only occur if our moral community encompasses all of humanity.