What does it mean to be human? Being human has particular implications. Human conscience and the actions that are taken to safeguard human dignity give special meaning to the concept of humanity. 

When we abandon our efforts to safeguard human dignity, we lose the essence of being human. When we fail to safeguard human rights, we are abandoning our moral principles. This gives rise to the chaos, corruption and the many humanitarian crises that we are experiencing in today’s world. 

More than two centuries have passed since the concept of human rights was developed.  During this time humanity has passed through a number of different phases of history and the world has experienced many changes. In the contemporary world, where our hold on values and the fundamental principles inherent in human rights is weakening, we are risking the loss of our rights, our responsibilities and the ability to safeguard human dignity. 

History shows that moral failure is always accompanied by sad realities that are visible all around us. The worldwide refugee crisis is increasing every day and millions of refugees have been forced to leave their homes because of war or poverty. Malta comes face to face with this phenomenon when immigrants reach its shores looking for a better future.  Furthermore, the environment we live in is being devastated through development and the ecological balance is becoming more and more fragile. Political crises, particularly in the European region, persist and democratic governance has long been going downhill. 

The concept of human rights needs to be revised. Human rights are common values. When abuses are carried out against someone in society, human dignity is compromised. It is only when the rights of each individual are safeguarded and protected that humanity can achieve common goals. This is the principle of human rights, in its simplicity. However, common acknowledgement of this truth is still lacking. Why? Could it be because we are too selfish or too lacing in courage? Or, perhaps, we are not honest and we do not truly love life. 

If we truly believed in values that we can all identify with and aspire to – truth, appreciation of science and the environment, love for ourselves and others, respect for life and trust in society – we would eliminate the obstacles that are keeping us from understanding and safeguarding the fundamental definition of humanity, maintain the common value of human lives and the lives of others and believe that humans and the environment are interdependent. 

Believing in ourselves and others, trust in the power of humanity to do what is right and to recognise the value of life – these set up the foundation of all human values and all human effort.