Every 10 December is celebrated as “Human Rights Day”. On this day, in 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The just-formed UN organisation, still deeply shaken by the horror of war, decided to take a step forward. This is one of the most widely translated and published documents in history. We know that this Declaration is not a binding document, but it constitutes the international framework in which various instruments for the defence of rights are set up.

As Marists of Champagnat, we too, today, wish to join in this celebration. We wish to continue to do our bit to ensure that every human being has equal rights. We wish to continue working so that all our children grow up, in any part of the world, aware of their rights. We wish to continue to develop initiatives that stand on the side of those most in need when it comes to defending their rights.

When we speak of “Human Rights” we refer to a set of rights that are INALIENABLE, and that belong to ALL human beings. These rights do not depend on the sex, nationality, ethnicity, religion… of the person. We wish human rights to be “truly” universal and equal for all. Pope Francis, in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, challenges us to defend human rights. We Marists wish to join in this proposal.

For the celebration of this year 2021, the United Nations proposes the theme “Equality”. Equality is at the heart of all rights, protecting in a particular way those who are most vulnerable (children, women, indigenous people, migrants…). It is also worth noting that this celebration wishes to be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, including climate justice.

But we are not just talking about celebration, we are also talking about concrete commitment, practical action and shared responsibility. Our educational works, and our communities and families, are privileged areas in which to continue our journey. Our determined will to improve our world leads us to join with others, working in networks, in order to go further and be more effective.

We are driven by a strong commitment to the promotion and defence of rights, as the fifth call of the XXII General Chapter reminds us. And this commitment drives us to implement policies of protection, defence and promotion of rights, especially among the most vulnerable children and young people.

In this time of pandemic, which we continue to experience to varying degrees, we continue to commit ourselves to reflection and action, to move forward together, working as a network. Much is already being done, and much more can be done. We have hundreds of concrete experiences, in schools and social work, in communities and families, in groups of young people and adults, showing us this. Experiences that we are increasingly joining on our web pages, with other Provinces and Regions, with various institutions. Experiences in defence of “human rights” that bring us ever closer to the great “global family” that we wish to be.


Br. Ángel Diego, Director of the Solidarity Secretariat