Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Sikhs and the Declaration
The Declaration was made at the end of WW2 in which millions of lives were lost in conflict and unspeakable atrocities between communities not recognising the sentiments of the above Declaration and seeing others as lesser beings.
Sikh teachings on human rights predate the Universal Declaration’s emphasis on the oneness of our human family, by some 500 years, with their rejection of caste and race, emphasis on gender equality and, in the closing words of our Ardas: ’sarbat da bhala’ – concern for the wellbeing of all humanity.
As Sikhs, we are therefore concerned that the Universal Declaration has been universally ignored in the last 75 years. Numerous horrific conflicts have resulted in the shameless pursuit of power, so-called strategic interest or worse, and bigotry of belief – something condemned by Guru Nanak who taught the one God of us all was not in the least bit interested in our religious labels, but in what we did for our fellow beings.
The Conflict in Gaza
The brutal attack on Israel on October 7 and the taking of hostages was followed by the no less brutal Israeli attack on Gaza with the continuing killing of thousands of civilians, hospital strikes, and an attack on mosques and refugee camps, along with the denial of food, water, power, or humanitarian assistance.
The Universal Declaration and the way to peace
Old fashioned concepts of dividing countries into friend and foe in our one human family are totally contrary to the spirit of the Universal Declaration. Looking the other way when those we see as allies abuse human rights is not the best way forward. Nor is the much vaunted two state solution talked about for decades practicable, when Israeli ‘settlors’ acquire Palestinian areas. This British government concept of dividing people because of supposed difference is not only contrary to the Universal Declaration of one human family, but also doomed to failure as seen in the conflict in Northern Ireland, and that seen in the Indian subcontinent.
The only way forward is for the West to help ensure equal human rights of freedom of movement and belief, as well as the right to residence and employment in one country, that is both Israel and Palestine. When I suggested this at a meeting in Parliament a few years back, I was told that this will happen at the second coming. I retorted, ’why wait?’
A peace effort on the lines on inherent common identity as mandated in the Universal Declaration would be the best way to celebrate this important anniversary. All Sikhs and non-Sikhs should give it their full support.
Lord Singh, Director – Network of Sikh Organisations