International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

Lara Kajs | 10 December 2022 |

Yesterday, 9 December, the world recognized Genocide Prevention Day and the establishment of the Genocide Convention. It was a day of remembrance of all the lives lost in genocide. Today, 10 December, the world celebrates International Human Rights Day and the fundamental human rights afforded to every single person in the world – whoever they are, and wherever they may be.

In 1948, at a time when the world was healing from the Second World War, the atrocity of the Holocaust, and the destruction of millions of people; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) asserted that all humans have fundamental rights. Seventy-four years later, we acknowledge, and hold firmly the standards the UDHR set for all of us… then and now.

Thirty Articles

Listed in Thirty Articles, the UDHR declares that regardless of race, color, religion, sex, gender, language, political opinion, national or social origin, birth, or any other status, all humans have equal worth and should be treated with respect. These universal human rights include the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, the right to seek asylum, the right to free movement in and out of the country, freedom from slavery, freedom from torture, the right to education, the right to own property, the right to work, freedom of speech, the right to peaceful protest and assembly, freedom from arbitrary detention, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and the right to a fair trial – to name a few.

Expands to Meet Human Rights Needs

In the decades since the UDHR was adopted by the UN, many countries around the world have embraced and implemented the guiding principles in their societies. As new challenges have been presented over the years, the UDHR has been the blueprint for expanding human rights across the globe and serves to increase protections for vulnerable populations including, but not limited to, migrants, women and girls, persons with disabilities, ethnic and indigenous populations, those impacted by conflict and violence, persons arbitrarily detained, asylum seekers, and forcibly displaced and stateless persons. The UDHR protects the rights of the 103 Million people forcibly displaced by conflict – people who have been forced to flee from their homes with little more than they could carry. Every single one of them has the right to be safe, to seek safety, and to seek asylum.

Dignity, Freedom, and Justice For All

The aim of Human Rights Day is to create awareness and promote the rights and freedoms presented in the UDHR. This year’s celebration is a year-long campaign leading up to the 75th commemoration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2023. This year’s theme is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.

While December 10th commemorates the date the United Nations adopted the UDHR, this day in history also signifies the day that South African President Nelson Mandela signed his country’s first permanent post-apartheid constitution on 10 December 1996. The world has come a long way, but we still have far to go to reconcile the discrimination, racism, hate, xenophobia, homophobia, islamophobia, religious persecution, and so much more – that permeates societies around the world and spreads intolerance and creates violence and conflict. And just as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promotes inalienable rights, we ALL have a role to play in standing up for human rights. Let’s start today.

Photo Credit: Chalking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the University of Essex – licensed under CC by 2.0