UNIC Lagos Unveils World’s First Complete Braille of UDHR

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos Nigeria, on Monday, December 11, 2017 launched the first complete braille version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to mark the 2017 International Human Rights Day and the beginning of the year-long campaign to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR.

Launching the braille at the National Human Rights Commission headquarters in Abuja was the Resident Coordinator of the UN system in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, with the support of the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Akpata (Esq); the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Christopher Thornley; and the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Mrs Oti Ovrawah.

To the admiration of the audience, two students of Abuja School of the Blind, Miss Jacinta Odili and Mr Honesty Ayama read UDHR Articles One and Seven respectively from the braille.

Explaining the rationale behind the UNIC Lagos initiative to produce the Braille Version, Mr Kallon said, “In strengthening the efforts to leave no one behind and deepen universal access and usage of the UDHR, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Nigeria, initiated and produced the Braille Version of the UDHR for the blind. We have heard of UDHR in sign language as well as in audio format. But, this Braille Version probably is the first of its kind in the world.”

According to him, this effort aligns with the directive of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that making global development inclusive of people with disabilities “must be an enhanced priority”. Delivering the message of the UN Secretary-General on the International Human Rights Day, the Resident Coordinator urged people and leaders everywhere to stand up for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural — and for the values that underpin our hopes for a fairer, safer and better world for all.

In her remarks, Mrs Ovrawah called on human rights defenders, activists, CSOs and NGOs to stand up for the rights of all, the IDPs, the refugees, the trafficked and those still in the captivity of Boko Haram and those in ‘slavery’ and held in bondage in Libya.

At the observance of the International Human Rights Day on the same day in Lagos, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja made a public presentation of the Braille Version of the UDHR at the event jointly organised with the Zonal Office of the National Human Rights Commission, and held at Ikeja Local Government Council Secretariat.

“The Braille Version of the UDHR”, he explained, “therefore, aims to foster unity within diversity and enhance a sense of inclusiveness amongst the visually challenged, whose rights as human beings are enshrined in and protected by the UDHR.”

He disclosed that in Nigeria, the UDHR has been translated into Edo, Efik, Ibibio, Hausa, Igbo, Kanuri Yerwa, Tiv, Yoruba and Pidgin English. “This gives credence to the need to leave no one behind,” he emphasised.

Mr Kayanja later led participants, who were mainly secondary students, to read and affirm the Human Rights Pledge to defend the rights of others as part of commemorating the 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). ‘When another’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined. So I will stand up,’ they affirmed.

The UDHR is a milestone document in the global history of human rights, and is infused with values and ideals drawn from the world over. Drafted by UN representatives from diverse cultural and technical backgrounds, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.

In 70 years of its existence, the UDHR has proven to be resilient and critical to the well-being of the human race. Its appeal is unprecedented, and it cuts across regions and races. In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records declared the UDHR to be the most translated document in the world. Today, with 505 translations, it still is.

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