The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70
Let’s stand up for equality, justice and human dignity
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Human Rights Day marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all.
- Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day.
- Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values.
- Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace.
- Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.
- We need to stand up for our rights and those of others.
Children in Balochistan Province, Pakistan. UN Photo/Amjad Jamal
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds the Guinness World Record as the most translated document. Yet, far too many people are still unaware of their basic rights as human beings.
Human rights are everyone’s rights. Know your rights, and help spread the word:
Watch the Declaration in sign languages.
A voter displays proof of having exercised her voice at the ballot box in Timore-Leste’s parliamentary elections. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Message by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Seventy years ago, upon the ashes of countries devastated by war, the Holocaust and economic depression, world leaders devised a plan. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was conceived as a detailed map to guide the world’s people out of conflict and suffering, and ensure that relations within societies, and between states, could be sustainable and peaceful.
The Declaration inspired liberation movements and led to better access to justice, social protections, economic opportunities and political participation. Wherever respect for its commitments has been present, the dignity of millions has been uplifted, suffering prevented and the foundations laid for a more just world. We need to keep pushing forward.
People are increasingly fearful of the great changes our world is experiencing.
And it is precisely at times of turmoil and uncertainty that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can guide us.
Step by step, it lights the path.
We need more respect. Greater justice. We need to uphold human equality and dignity.
And we can achieve this.
All of us, wherever we are, can make a difference, by standing up for everyone’s human rights.