Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Logo, unveiled in New York on 23 September 2011
Also called HRD
Observed by UN Members
Celebrations United Nations
Begins 1948
Date 10 December
Next time 10 December 2016 (2016-12-10)
Frequency annual

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December every year

The date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.[1][2]

The day is normally marked both by high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organizations.


Human Rights Day is the day observed in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[3]

The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1990, after the Assembly passed resolution 423(V) inviting all States and interested organizations to adopt 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.[4] The popularity of the day can be shown by the fact that the commemorative Human Rights Day stamp issued by the United Nations Postal Administration in 1952, received approximately 200,000 advance orders.[5]

When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance". The measure was received by both advocates and critics alike as "being more declarative than legislative, more suggestive than binding."[6]

Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasizes the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main United Nations rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day:

Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime... Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.

The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurred on 10 December 2008, and the UN Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign leading up to this anniversary.[7] Because the UDHR holds the world record as the most translated document (except for the Bible), organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere learn about their rights.

Past observances

Year Actions
2015 The theme for 2015 is "Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always."[3]
2014 Every day is Human Rights Day is the slogan for the year 2014. Human Rights 365 celebrates the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states that everyone, everywhere, at all times are entitled to their human rights. Human Rights belong to everyone equally and “binds us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.”[8]
2013 Celebrating twenty years working for your rights was the theme of the 2013 Human Rights Day celebration. Twenty Years ago the creation of the position of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was established which empowered an official, independent voice to speak worldwide for human rights.[9]
2012 Inclusion and the right to participate in public life was the theme of 2012 Human Rights Day. The focus in 2012 was on all people to make their voices heard and be included in political decision making. ″ My Voice Counts″ slogan was seen in the occupy movement around the world in protest of economic, political and social inequality.[10]
2011 Following a year of protest in many countries, from Tunisia to Cairo to the Occupy movement, the theme of 2011 recognized the significance of social media and technology in assisting human rights defenders in new ways.[11]
2009 10 December 2009 marked as 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tom Malinowsky from Human Rights Watch in the U.S. state of Washington commented that there had been progress in human rights over the last 40 years" "I think there is greater awareness around the world that people have fundamental rights and that those rights are enshrined in both law domestically and internationally".[12]
  • Gay rights activists in the U.S. state of California urged people to support equal rights by "calling in 'gay'" to work.[13] This was in response to the renewed ban on gay marriage when Proposition 8 passed earlier in the year.
  • Several people were detained in China after around 300 people signed an online petition titled Charter 08 for the government to improve human rights in the country. In Beijing, a small protest was broken up that took place outside the foreign ministry.[14]
  • UNYA Australia celebrated Human Rights Day with the write4rights campaign, asking young people to contribute a message about human rights by phone or on a website for display in Australian State capital cities.[15]
  • Amnesty International organised a large event in Paris, France, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UN resolution.[16]
  • Celebrations took place in Phnom Penh and around Cambodia, including a march by 5000 people, and a further 1000 people releasing balloons, organised by NGOs.[17]
  • Other celebrations and events took place in Russia[18] and India.[19]
2006 In an interesting coincidence, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, known for human rights violations committed during his authoritarian rule, died of a heart attack on 10 December 2006, at the age of 91.[20]
1983 President Raúl Alfonsin, of Argentina, decided to assume office on 10 December 1983, ending the military dictatorship that had ruled the country since 1976. The election of that day for his inauguration was related to human rights violations committed during the dictatorship. From then on, all presidential inaugurations have taken place on 10 December.
1979 Shih Ming-teh organized a human rights campaign in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. This led to the Kaohsiung Incident characterized by three rounds of arrests and mock trials of political opponents of the ruling Kuomintang party and their subsequent imprisonment.

Date variance

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is celebrated on 21 March, in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre which took place on 21 March 1960. This massacre occurred as a result of protests against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.[24] South African Human Rights Day was declared a national holiday when the ANC was elected as the government with Nelson Mandela as the first democratically elected leader.[25] Parliament's role on this day is to empower the people so that the democratic processes becomes known to all South Africans.[26]

It is celebrated on 11 December in Kiribati.

See also


  1. United Nations General Assembly Session 5 Resolution 423(V). A/RES/423(V) 4 December 1950. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  2. Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (2009). "The History of Human Rights Day". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  3. 1 2 James, Anu (9 December 2015). "Human Rights Day: Best Quotes By Famous Personalities to Mark UN Day". International Business Times. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  4. Lawson, Edward (1996). Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Research and contributing editor, Jan K. Dargel (2nd ed.). Taylor & Francis. pp. 722–724. ISBN 9781560323624.
  5. Green, James Frederick (1956). United Nations and Human Rights. The Brookings Institution. p. 676.
  6. Cohen, G. Daniel (2011). "The 'Human Rights Revolution' at Work: Displaced Persons in Postwar Europe". In Hoffmann, Stefan-Ludwig. Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press. pp. 49–50. ISBN 9780521194266.
  7. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1948-2008". United Nations. 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  8. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). "Human Rights Day 2014 #Rights 365". United Nations Human Rights. OHCHR. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  9. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). "HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2013". United Nations Human Rights. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  10. United Nations. "Human Rights Day, 10 December". United Nations Department of Public Information. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  11. "Human Rights Day 2011"
  12. "International Human Rights Day Marks Progress and Setbacks". VOA.
  13. "" Calling in 'Gay' to Work Is Latest Form of Protest" ABC News". Retrieved 9 December 2008. Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "Chinese police detain protesters", BBC, 10 December 2008.
  15. "Write4Rights". Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  16. "Abuses persist as UN rights declaration turns 60", AFP, 10 December 2008.
  17. "Inequality is fuelling rights violations, UN warns govt", 10 December 2008.
  18. "International Human Rights Day marked in Russia", ITAR-TASS, 10 December 2008.
  19. "Students celebrate Human Rights Day", Times of India, 10 December 2008.
  20. Catan, Thomas; Crooks, Nathan (11 December 2006). "General Pinochet, 91, dies awaiting trial for murder". The Times. London. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  21. "A global campaign against Internet censorship and the long-term imprisonment of journalists in Asia". PEN American Center. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  22. "On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the UN, Inter-American and African protection mechanisms call on governments to protect human rights defenders." (Press release). Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 10 December 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  23. "Satellite Imagery for Conflict Prevention and Human Rights: An Event in Honor of Human Rights Day 2006". The American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science and Human Rights Program. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  24. "Human Rights Day". South African Human Rights Commission. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  25. User, Super. "Human Rights Day - 21 March - South Africa". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  26. "Human Rights Day". Retrieved 2016-02-19.

External links

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