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Human Rights that Aren’t So Universal: Modern Slavery and the World Cup

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

This is Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. On December 10 of 2014, a vigil will be held in San Francisco to commemorate 66 years of the Universal Declaration’s existence. Everywhere around the world where the UN has jurisdiction, December 10 is Human Rights Day.

While we celebrate 66 years of universal human rights, consider that they may not be so universal after all. In Qatar, migrant workers have been dying by the dozen to build a showcase stadium for the World Cup soccer tournament of 2022. Those migrant workers are working in abominable conditions, being forbidden to go home, and going unpaid for the work they do. This is modern day slavery for the sake of Qatari, 66 years after slavery was declared dead.

At 3 pm on December 2 2014, eight days before Human Rights Day, Human Rights activists are gathering outside the Qatari embassy in Washington, DC to protest this modern-day slavery, all carried in pursuit of dollars that in turn pursue a sport. There are still people who care in this world. And there are still people who don’t. Which people will prevail?

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Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

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