Southern Illinois United Nations Association hosts Human Rights - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois United Nations Association hosts Human Rights Day ceremony

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CARBONDALE -- December 10 marks International Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Human rights day is everyday," said Mariam Mansaray, a third-year SIUC law student.

Mansaray, also a Human Rights Fellowship recipient, spent the summer in Ethiopia, working with the African Union Commission to help tackle human rights issues.

On Human Rights Day, she shared her experiences at a ceremony hosted by the United Nations Southern Illinois Chapter, who helped fund her trip through the fellowship.

"We hold this event to remind people how important this is and to celebrate the people who are doing that in our community," said Chapter President Cindy Buys.

The group provides educational programming and fundraising throughout the year to support people across the world.

"Human rights is so broad," Buys said. "It's everything from the right to water, to health, to housing, it really affects every aspect of our lives."

The chapter presented its 2017 Human Rights Award to the Race Unity Group, who meets weekly to discuss issues with people from various walks of life, while working toward finding solutions.

"Really the only way we're going to be able to move forward in our society is if we learn to better live together and to understand one another," Buys said. "I think that's exactly what the Race Unity Group does."

And Mariam hopes to use her law degree to do just that -- move society forward.

"Rather than just criticize, find out how you can have a conversation not just with the people you're used to talking to all the time," Mansaray said.

Because she said right now, there's a lot of work to do.

"Be reminded of how far we've come, but how far we have yet to go," Mansaray said.

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