The United Nations proclaimed February 20 the World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting member states to support efforts to eradicate poverty, ensure access to health care and education and fight all forms of discrimination.
In his message this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, ""Circumstances such as where a person is born, where they live or their gender and ethnicity should never determine their income or their opportunities for quality education, basic healthcare, decent work, adequate shelter, access to drinking water, political participation or living free from threatened, or actual, physical violence."
Social justice is, of course, a broad concept. Over the years, guests have brought their passion for a whole range of social issues to the red chair. In honour of the day, we thought we'd collect some of them.
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, U.S. track star John Carlos made international headlines when he raised his fist on the podium along with his compatriot Tommie Smith in a silent protest against inequality in America. He spoke with George about that moment and his life since then.
The director of the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with George about torture and the moral responsibilities of countries when they're waging war abroad.
The Iranian-born human rights activist and model (and wife of Justice Minister Peter MacKay) spoke with George about her book The Tale of Two Nazanins and her non-profit group Stop Child Executions.
The acclaimed Canadian director's latest film, Devil's Knot, tells the story of the West Memphis Three, three teens convicted and imprisoned for the murder of three young boys. In his recent conversation with George, he spoke about the concept of justice (skip ahead to 3:55).
Actress and activist Olivia Wilde talked with George about her work in Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice and Half the Sky, a documentary and campaign drawing attention to the oppression of women around the world.
The internationally syndicated sex columnist and founder of the "It Gets Better" project talked with George about LGBT issues and what he believes is the moral responsibility of being out.
Sorvino, an Academy Award-winning actress, has long been involved in social causes, and received Amnesty International’s Artist of Conscience Award in 2006. Here she shares the surprising story of how she became socially aware at a young age.
The first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague has devoted his life and career to prosecuting warlords, dictators and perpetrators of acts of evil. He talked with George about his work.
Shiva is a physicist, environmental activist and author, who spoke with George in 2012 about Navdanya, her program that promotes sustainable food models to fight hunger around the world.
Dr. Julio Montaner
The Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (and a Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia) talks about his unexpected turn from science to activism in this My Defining Moment.
The Vagina Monologues creator and V-Day founder spoke with George about abuse and violence against women, and about the importance of sexual education: