Massimino Statement on Human Rights Day
Washington, D.C.—Today as the world commemorates Human Rights Day, President and CEO Elisa Massimino released the following statement:
“Respect for human dignity and individual rights is ‘the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.’ Thus begins the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which came into being nearly seventy years ago today. Crafted under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, this pivotal document reflects wisdom forged in the crucible of World War II and the Holocaust. It is, at its core, a security document—a profound assessment that failure to protect basic rights leads inevitably to conflict and instability, and that nations that violate or fail to protect the rights of those within their borders ultimately pose a threat to the rest of the world.
“And yet today, as we celebrate the courageous work of people everywhere who are standing up to protect the rights of others, we must acknowledge that the United States—a chief architect of the Universal Declaration and of the global world order created to realize its vision—is abdicating its historic leadership role, creating a vacuum that authoritarians and tyrants are rushing to fill.
“When President Trump cozies up to dictators, alienates our allies, and denies protection to vulnerable refugees, he is unraveling the international structures and norms that have helped secure American interests for decades. These so-called ‘America First’ policies are dangerous and short-sighted. When America turns its back on human rights, it further destabilizes volatile regions of the world, allows extremism and intolerance to fester, and undermines democracy.
“Today we reaffirm the hard-won wisdom of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: that respect for human rights is the bedrock of security. We honor and celebrate the brave and generous men and women across our country—veterans, lawyers, corporate leaders, people of faith—who are joining with us in the hard work of protecting human rights by raising their voices to defend American ideals.”