#MySDGDream: Human Rights for Everyone, Everywhere

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to liberty and love for fellow human-being recognizing, “We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny… an inescapable network of mutuality…. I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.” 

The United States and the world honor Dr. King’s birthday with a commitment to service and continuing his legacy for the liberation of all humanity for our collective spirit to soar. 

King’s speeches and strategies are rare in their commitment for ends justifying the means in pursuit of peace and justice.  King’s action transformed ideas of philosophy into initiatives on paper that were creating institutions with policy to realize the human rights enshrined in our core Charters of Freedom at the founding of the nation and amended for ‘everywhere in the world’ with Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is consensus for King’s values and vision beyond those early documents of democracy and dignity. After seven decades of the UN existence on earth rising from the ashes of racism and war, all UN member states agreed to the UN 2030 Agenda consisting of 17 comprehensive, compassionate and creative Sustainable Development Goals rooted in human rights for global citizens.  

We the peoples must take to heart King’s words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The 17 Global Goals are grounded in international human rights norms. Over 90% of the goals and targets of the transformative development framework of the 2030 Agenda correspond to globally recognized human rights obligations and we must organize to realize all rights for all. 

FDR and the world’s first lady recognized from the domestic agenda that personal dignity and global democracy are both essential.  Eleanor Roosevelt even began transforming the words into new ways to live together. MLK encouraged the nation to engage so we could achieve equality and equity for all. 

King understood civil and political rights along with economic, social and cultural rights are ‘universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. We cannot have one without the other just like our individuals rights will not be respected, protected and fulfilled until collective rights from Java to Jamaica rights are realized around the world.

King understood, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” and undertook action. We need to get in some John Lewis ‘good trouble’ for the global common good enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Human rights is the foundation rooted in the FDR Four Freedoms and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that can provide a pathway forward for a moral revival and build a national human rights movement that contributes to global civil society achieving the UN 2030 Agenda.

There is an opportunity to organize and begin a new chapter for our country. As King reminded us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  The U.S. civil society mobilized a national movement under the previous administration for the UN Universal Periodic Review with Human Rights cities consultations, embassy briefings, UN mission meetings, civil society side events and even serpentine sessions where we the peoples shared what’s necessary and what we want now. We, also, exercised our core human rights including civil disobedience and voting to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.  The world agreed with our analysis also reinforcing our recommendations in our submitted stakeholder reports raising nearly 350 recommendations from over a hundred member states to reverse course in our country the week following the election. 

King emphasized and echoed why we participated in the UPR,” We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.” 

We can begin sharing #MySDGdream on King’s birthday and then continue weekly leading up to the actual UPR adoption. We can launch on the Biden-Harris Inauguration day a multi week campaign across the country leading up to the actual adoption of the UPR report with the U.S. administration accepting the recommendation at the UN Human Rights Council in March. 

Building on #MySDGdream, we will continue in Week 1: Why this right is important and how it changes lives; Week 2: Reaching out to local elected officials (mayors, state legislatures, city council) to implement our rights; Week 3: Reaching out to our governor to implement these rights; Week 4: Reach out to Members of Congress asking for their support. Asking key committees to host hearings on this topic; Week 5: Reach out to federal agencies (Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Labor, etc.) to ask how they will help implement our rights; and Week 6: Reach out to the U.S. president to urge them to realize our rights. 

The UPR is one of the global human rights monitoring mechanisms and all recommendations are linked to the UN SDGs.  Over 90% of the Global Goals targets are embedded in human rights declarations, covenants and conventions. We can connect the UPR recommendations with the specific Global Goals acknowledging the rights in the accompanying framework. 

The final report adoption provides a framework for greater freedom and common good. The human rights recommendation reinforces the 17 Global Goals. The U.S. should continue preparing its historic Voluntary National Review for the UN High Level Political Forum and also Nationally Determined Contribution for the Paris Agreement at the Glasgow Summit.  

 The U.S. and the UN are both committed to build back better in beauty and balance for a beloved community.  Now is our human rights movement moment. 

 On the global stage, the U.S. should host a Democracy Summit of states committed to a free world of fundamental freedom that synthesizes steps to achieve SDG16 while recognizing lessons from multiple crises that economic, social and cultural rights are integral elements for a healthy people, nation and planet. The U.S. must lead by example with cooperative and constructive engagement everywhere in the world bringing human rights home

We the peoples can commemorate King Day and dedicate ourselves for a decade of action with a human rights based approach and #MySDGdream agenda for global moral architecture to achieve the 2030 agenda together. 

 #MySDGdream is King’s calling for human rights and sustainable development,” Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.”