« What's the big secret ? Restoring people's dignity. »
abbé Pierre, Pensées inédites, 2015.
Emmaus was founded by Abbé Pierre in 1949 and this international solidarity movement is based on a core ethical principle - rather than working for the most deprived people, the Emmaus Movement works with them, enabling them to regain their dignity and help other needy people. Since 1949, the Emmaus Movement has endeavoured to build a more humane society, combating all forms of social, racial, political, economic, religious and philosophical exclusion and discrimination, and ensuring that everyone's fundamental rights are guaranteed and respected. Emmaus seeks to address the root causes of poverty, putting forward practical alternatives to our current profit-based society.
Emmaus has a worldwide presence and now has over 300 member organisations across Europe. Their main income-generating activity is collecting and recycling second-hand goods. This reflects a well thought-out approach aligned with the Emmaus Movement’s values of solidarity, simplicity, and shelter and support: Emmaus gives a new lease of life to unwanted goods, while also giving a second chance to men and women 'discarded’ by society. The Emmaus groups are therefore pioneers of an alternative model combining economic development, respect for the environment, and social and solidarity-based action to address exclusion.
Emmaus and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an integral part of the Emmaus Movement's Universal Manifesto. In accordance with the UDHR's ethos, the Emmaus groups work on a daily basis at the grassroots to champion these values and denounce violations of them. The practical initiatives run by the Emmaus member organisations bring alive the 30 articles: each human being regains their dignity and helps to develop a more socially-supportive form of community living that respects fundamental rights.
While the universal values advocated by this declaration were key to building peace in Europe, it has to be said that the ambitions of 1948 have been watered down. The guarantees enshrined in this declaration are far from being a priority in our contemporary societies. It has to be said that at local, regional, national and European level, too few political decisions are being taken on protecting fundamental rights.
Together, let's apply the UDHR to make the values it champions meaningful.