“Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all,” says the High Commissioner who this year will mark Human Rights Day in South Africa. Photo: Earth-Sun NASA
She encourages people everywhere - including the UN family, governments, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, educators, and individuals - to seize the opportunity of Human Rights Day 2009 to join hands to embrace diversity and end discrimination.
The realisation of all human rights - social, economic and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights – is hampered by discrimination. All too often, when faced with prejudice and discrimination, political leaders, governments and ordinary citizens are silent or complacent.
Yet everyone of us can make a difference. You are encouraged to celebrate Human Rights Day by advocating non-discrimination, organizing activities, raising awareness and reaching out to your local communities on 10 December and throughout 2010. Read more
"Discrimination targets individuals and groups that are vulnerable to attack: the disabled, women and girls, the poor, migrants, minorities, and all those who are perceived as different.
... But these victims of discrimination are not alone. The United Nations is standing with them, committed to defending the rights of all, and particularly the most vulnerable. That is our identity and our mission."
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories." Read more
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
At a time when the public was horrified by the human rights atrocities of World War II, millions of the world's citizens welcomed the creation of the UN's Human Rights Commission (HRC) in June 1946. As one of only two standing commissions established by the UN Charter, the HRC was designed to serve as the UN's primary body for human rights policy formulation. As such, the commission quickly assigned itself the ambitious task of drafting an International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR) and set to work on the difficult job of writing a document that would be acceptable to all. It is clear that the international community felt confident in the commission's ability to undertake its work, and nations took great care in sending prestigious intellectuals and public servants to act as their representatives. By and large, it was this work, in combination with refugee issues, that dominated the first few years of the commission's agenda.
In addition to these initial activities, however, the HRC also made one crucial decision at its first meeting that would profoundly effect it for years to come. In unanimously selecting Eleanor Roosevelt to serve as their chairman, the HRC members insured that a powerful voice for strong human rights action would steer the commission through the creation of the IBHR and set the standard by which future chairmen would be judged. Read complete article - The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. Read more - Photo
Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt's belief that, "The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities," more than 125 organizations participated in the In Your Hands campaign. Men, women, boys and girls worked together to mark the December 10 anniversary through citizen action and Town Hall Meetings in cities across the United States. Human Rights Day is celebrated each year on December 10. Use the resources and background information on this site to plan your own activities in support of the Declaration's principals. Read more – Universal Declaration of Human Rights