10 December is Human Rights Day celebrating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And on 8 December, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a powerful speech at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva highlighting its importance.
Where is the press?
This international prize went to Corbyn for:
his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace… he has worked for peace and alternatives to war.
In 2013, Corbyn was awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award. His commitment to peace and human rights is lifelong.
“The four greatest and interconnected threats”
During his speech at the UN, Corbyn spoke about Brexit and social justice. He spoke about issues that affect us all on a global level. And Corbyn explained the need to “confront the four greatest and interconnected threats facing our common humanity”.
He pointed to “neoliberalism” and the “unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite”. He also explained these things lead to “increased inequality, marginalisation, insecurity, and indeed anger across the world”.
The second threat he mentioned was climate change:
which is creating instability, fuelling conflict across the world, and threatening all our futures.
And he also spoke of:
the unprecedented number of people fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, social breakdown, and climate disasters.
And finally, the use of unilateral military action and intervention, rather than diplomacy and negotiation, to resolve disputes and change governments.
“We can live in a more peaceful world”
Despite these monumental challenges, Corbyn offered solutions. And he called on “the world’s richer countries to step up and show our common humanity”.
But he was clear about the UK’s role. He explained that the current government, “champions some human rights issues” but “on others it is silent, if not complicit, in their violation”. Because “the UK is one of the world’s largest arms exporters”.
He was explicit about UK involvement in “the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fuelled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds”. And he challenged the lack of action on British arms companies who profit selling arms to Yemen:
What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen?
And he went on to say:
Our credibility to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is severely undermined when the British Government has been providing support to Myanmar’s military.
Corbyn spoke like a true world leader and statesman. He said that together we can, “Work for peace, security and understanding”. Because:
The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less.
His speech – and award – should have been headline news, because the issues he spoke about affect us all. But even if the mainstream media are silent: Jeremy Corbyn, we stand with you.
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Featured image via David Mirzoeff