Rights Declaration Established Humanitarian Standard

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines that discrimination of any form breaches the dignity of individuals and is a violation of rights; that’s why this is called the non-discrimination clause. It would lay the seeds for what eventually became the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It established the standard to which CRS and all humanitarian agencies adhere — humanitarian assistance is provided based on need, not creed, race, nationality or ethnic origin.

Back in 1948, when the declaration was signed, signs of progress were seen even as it became clear international adherence to the document was far from complete, as the two examples below illustrate:

Positive change: In the United States, President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9981 ending racial segregation in the United States Armed forces.

Negative change: In South Africa, in a general election, the coalition of United and Labor Parties, under Prime Minister Smuts, was defeated by a Nationalist Afrikaaner bloc, led by Daniel Malan. Malan’s new government had been elected on a platform of racial segregation (apartheid), and soon this policy was implemented. The government outlawed marriages between whites and non-whites. It also passed the Group Areas Bill that divided the country into zones for separate ethnic groups.

– Daisy Francis, CRS Protection Policy/Issues Advisor

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