Human Rights Day
annually on December 10th (since 1950)
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 4th, 1950
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948, and Human Rights Day commemorates this event and takes place on its anniversary. The day formally began in 1950, after the General Assembly passed resolution 423(V) on December 4th of that year, at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly. The resolution invited all states and interested organizations to mark the day. Each year there is a different theme. Political conferences and meetings are common, as are exhibitions and cultural events related to human rights issues. Special events are scheduled by governmental and non-governmental organizations that work in the human rights field, and by organizations that deal with civil and social causes. The Nobel Peace Prize is usually awarded on the day, and The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is awarded every five years on the day.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by "representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world." Forty-eight states voted in favor of it, and there were eight abstentions. It lays out a foundation for a more just world, and details a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone is entitled to, "without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." It "sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations" and "establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person."
Although not yet fully realized, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has stood the test of time, and its values of equality, human dignity, and justice, are just as relevant as they were when it was written. It has been translated more than any other document besides the bible, being available in over 500 languages. It is nonbinding but has inspired more than 60 human rights treaties and instruments since its inception. These documents and the Declaration have become an international standard of human rights. The Declaration and commitment to it have lifted the dignity of millions, and its adoption is commemorated today with Human Rights Day.
How to Observe Human Rights Day
Some ways you could mark the observance include:
- Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You could also view it in one of many other languages besides English, and read a simplified version of it with explanations.
- Find an official event to attend, or look for other events near you.
- Utilize the day's official resources, which include campaign materials for this year's observance, related websites, information about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and more.
- Get a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to hang on your wall, or print out copies of the Declaration to hand out.
- Stand up for the rights of yourself and others.
- Explore the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.