'Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.' - United Nations
Today, the 20th of February 2020, we join the United Nations in the commemoration of the World Day of Social Justice: a day for us as a young lawyers’ association, for us as lawyers and, more generally, for us as members of society, to raise awareness on the pursuit of social justice by promoting the human development and human dignity of all. Today, we remind ourselves that the notions of inclusive development and respect for human dignity lie at the heart of human rights. We emphasize once again that we cannot attain social justice, unless we respect human rights.
To mark this year’s World Day of Social Justice, the United Nations has chosen the theme 'Closing the inequalities gap to achieve social justice'. Within this context, today is also a day to celebrate the fact that the last decade has shown a decline (albeit in modest figures) in global inequality for the first time since the 19th century. And yet, as encouraging as this might sound, there is still more to be done: 'While we have made many notable advances in this field, there is still much work to be done, not only to track inequality but also to better understand how the rules of the global economy can help drive inclusive growth' (World Bank). In particular, with the global economy itself being pressured by disruptive developments that are fueled by protectionism, the digital economy and the threat of climate change, it is fair to say that we have reached yet another critical stage in the pursuit of equality. As the United Nations have pointed out, 'this is a critical time for decisive actions for an equitable future, which requires strong and coordinated responses at the global level to address the multidimensional root causes and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development'.
Today, as we stand at the dawn of a new decade, i.e. the decade preceding the 2030 deadline of the Agenda for Sustainable Development, we follow the United Nations in their call to uphold global social justice. We assert human dignity and human development and call upon our members to continue to do what is in their capacity, particularly as lawyers, to improve social conditions and remove the barriers faced by people because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. Closing the inequalities gap might be a challenge indeed, but it's high on the agenda of our association. Our annual congress in Rio will be an occasion to explore the topic even further as we will discuss diversity and inclusion under the theme ‘United in Diversity: Empowering our Future’.
The article has been written by AIJA’s Human Rights Committee to mark the World Day of Social Justice. To find out more about the World Day of Social Justice, please visit the UN website.