Leading Global Jewish Human Rights Group Declares Urgent Need to Reinvigorate Human Rights in Wake of Pandemic and Four Years of Trump Administration Attacks

On Human Rights Day, the 72nd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) says Rebuilding Global Human Rights is Crucial

On Human Rights Day, Rori Kramer, the Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, issued the following statement:

“On this day seventy-two years ago, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the aftermath of the severe violations of human rights, mass killings and genocide during World War II and the Holocaust. The Declaration established that every individual is entitled to fundamental human rights, and those rights are indisputable and not merely a political or moral choice for countries to either bestow or withdraw depending on circumstances. As a Jewish organization dedicated to supporting the human rights of the most vulnerable, we are deeply committed to upholding the rights inherent in the Universal Declaration, which is the foundation of a compact for a more just world.

“As COVID-19 has spread around the world, authoritarian leaders have used public health as an excuse to further crack down on human rights, especially for marginalized communities like women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, sex workers, ethnic minorities and indigenous people.

“And over the past four years, the Trump administration has purposefully harmed vulnerable communities here and abroad by undermining democracy at home and aligning the United States government with authoritarian regimes, rather than with human rights defenders, including the advocates we support worldwide. Since 2017, the White House has worked to diminish the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: It has attacked international institutions central to human rights, including the UN Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization and the International Criminal Court. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even attempted to gut human rights by forming his own Commission on Unalienable Rights and launching the Geneva Consensus Declaration—both of which are designed to weaponize the State Department to deprive women, girls and LGBTQI+ individuals of their sexual and reproductive rights.

“At AJWS we have repeatedly spoken out against these recurring assaults on human rights because we believe in the Jewish value of the inherent dignity of every individual, which is completely aligned with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no quick fix to the Trump administration’s damage, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the world community’s efforts to uphold it for more than seven decades do offer a framework. We look forward to working with the Biden administration to rebuild and reinvigorate a U.S. foreign policy with universal human rights at its core.

“In this unprecedented and challenging moment, it is more important than ever to defend our universal human rights. At AJWS, we continue to look to our grantee partners in 18 countries for hope and guidance as they fight unrelentingly for justice in their communities.”

About American Jewish World Service (AJWS) 

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 18 countries, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide and hunger, to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Madeline Cohen at mcohen@ajws.org during AJWS office hours from 9 am to 5 pm eastern time, Monday through Thursday. If you are on an urgent deadline on a Friday, over a weekend or during evening hours, please write Stuart Schear at sschear@ajws.org.