Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day

On December 10, 1948, the newly established United Nations General Assembly made the first global written declaration for human rights. Coined as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it was the first international promise to seek equal rights around the world. In 1950, the United Nations decided to make December 10th Human Rights Day to keep the momentum of the UDHR going.

The issue of human rights is still prevalent today, but it first gained prominence in the late 1940s. After World War II, citizens across the globe witnessed the aftermath of the Holocaust and wanted to take action to ensure that such horrific acts against humans would never occur again. Also, increased communication technologies made more people aware of genocides and civil wars in other nations, particularly those in Asia and Africa.

Human Rights Day is celebrated in a variety of forms. Some advocates celebrate the day in an upbeat way through ceremonies, parades, plays and musical performances. Others make it a mission to increase outreach on this holiday to people who don’t understand their rights. Most countries focus on educating women and children on human rights, especially in regions where such groups may be oppressed. In other cases, Human Rights Day presents opportunities for protests against oppressive governments. The majority of these protests are carried out peacefully.

2008 marked a special celebration for Human Rights Day. December 10, 2008 marked 60 years since the United Nations penned the UDHR. To date, it is the most-translated document in the world, and it has been printed in over 360 languages. The purpose of the UDHR holds true to this day as citizens from around the world continue to learn about their rights and gain freedom from oppressive governments. Some countries pass out copies of the UDHR every year on Human Rights Day.

All nations in the world recognize December 10th as Human Rights Day with the exception of South Africa. Instead, the day is observed on March 21st to remember the Sharpeville massacre that resulted in dozens of deaths after citizens protested against the Arpatheid government. This government promoted white supremacist policies, which resulted in segregation among the population. The deadly massacre occurred on March 21, 1960.

It’s no coincidence that December 10th is also the same day that the Nobel Peace Prize and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights are also awarded. The first award is annual, and the second is given every five years. Both prizes tie into the same theme of human rights, so each tie into this holiday just right.

While Human Rights day is designated as a full day for world-wide recognition of inhumane treatment in a variety of forms, it is important that participants take away with lessons to apply to everyday situations. The fight for human rights can be a long-term battle for some groups, and it is important to have the right information and resources on hand at all times in order to succeed.