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Human Rights Day 2012

A woman reads information at a Hong Kong Carnival on International Human Rights Day 2012.

Sixty-four years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sixty-four years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, declaring to the world that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. To honor this singular milestone in human history, we recognize December 10th as International Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day 2012
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Every human being is entitled to decide how to live his or her life; to express an opinion; to worship a god of his or her own choosing, or not at all; to be treated as an equal of his or her peers before a court of law; to participate in public life, and to have his or her voice heard in matters concerning the community, the country, the common future.

But still, in too many cases, people are deprived of some or even all of their rights because they belong to an ethnic or racial or religious minority, are female, or disabled, [or LGBT,] or simply because their ability to express an opinion might be perceived as threatening to the authority of the ruling elite.

“When any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year. “Every time a barrier to progress has fallen, it has taken a cooperative effort from those on both sides of the barrier. In the fight for women’s rights, the support of men remains crucial. The fight for racial equality has relied on contributions from people of all races. Combating Islamophobia or anti-Semitism is a task for people of all faiths.”

It is never easy to stand up and speak for the persecuted, to work toward restoring the rights of marginalized populations. On International Human Rights Day, let us celebrate those who rise up for the rights of their fellow citizens.

“Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well,” said Secretary of State Clinton.

“Let us be on the right side of history, for our people, our nations, and future generations.”