Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.
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.
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 nongovernmental 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 commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950, after the Assembly passed resolution 423(V) inviting all States and interested organizations to adopt 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
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". Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- International PEN announced the launch of a new campaign to secure the release from prison of "cyber-dissidents" in PR China, Maldives and Vietnam.
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN's Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders and the African Union's Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights issued a joint communiqué in which they commended the European Union for its recent adoption of a set of guidelines for protecting human rights defenders and urged the world's other regions to take similar steps in that direction.
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science organised a seminar in New York City on academic freedom in Iraq.
- Human Rights Day is endorsed by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) as an official day of Humanist celebration.
- 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.
- Gay rights activists in the U.S. state of California urged people to support equal rights by "calling in 'gay'" to work. 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.
- 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.
- Amnesty International organised a large event in Paris, France, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UN resolution.
- 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.
- Other celebrations and events took place in Russia and India.
- 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".
- 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.
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. Many South Africans however feel that any reference to the Sharpeville massacre promotes racism and is a blatant disregard of minority rights in Post-apartheid South Africa when considering the list of massacres in South Africa, and that the day should be celebrated to promote human rights in general.
It is celebrated on 11 December in Kiribati.
- United Nations General Assembly Session 5 Resolution 423(V). A/RES/423(V) 4 December 1950. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
- Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (2009). "The History of Human Rights Day". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
- "A global campaign against Internet censorship and the long-term imprisonment of journalists in Asia". PEN American Center. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
- "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.
- "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.
- Catan, Thomas and Crooks, Nathan (11 December 2006). "General Pinochet, 91, dies awaiting trial for murder". The Times (London). Retrieved 11 December 2006.
- "" Calling in 'Gay' to Work Is Latest Form of Protest" ABC News". Retrieved 9 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Chinese police detain protesters", BBC, 10 December 2008.
- "Write4Rights". Retrieved 9 December 2008.
- "Abuses persist as UN rights declaration turns 60", AFP, 10 December 2008.
- "Inequality is fuelling rights violations, UN warns govt", 10 December 2008.
- "International Human Rights Day marked in Russia", ITAR-TASS, 10 December 2008.
- "Students celebrate Human Rights Day", Times of India, 10 December 2008.
- "International Human Rights Day Marks Progress and Setbacks - Human rights advocates say the world has come a long way but some countries can do better"
- http://www.ohchr.org/EN/newsevents/day2011/pages/hrd2011.aspx "Human Rights Day 2011"
- "Human Rights Day". South African Human Rights Commission. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2006.