December 10 is World Human Rights Day, a date chosen to honor the adoption, by the United Nations General Assembly, of one of the most influential documents in modern history: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, this Document turns 75 years old.
Precipitating from the events of the Second World War, it was the first global enunciation of the inalienable rights of humankind.
Horrified by the horrendous crimes committed against civilian populations, the United Nations General Assembly without delay began to work on codifying a set of universal human rights. The final Document is based on the premise that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, as is explicitly stated in the first Article.
The Declaration, which came into force in 1950, inspired the development of international human rights law, as well as the International Bill of Human Rights. Today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the world’s most translated document.
Since 1950, then, December 10th has annually been celebrated as Human Rights Day, to commemorate this important achievement of the United Nations, at the time barely three years old. On this day, the Nobel Peace Prize is formally handed over to that year’s winner. And every year, the observance is dedicated to a different aspect of human rights. This year’s theme is “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future."
“On Human Rights Day and during Human Rights Week, we remember and reaffirm the sacred idea that every person is created equal, endowed with inherent dignity and inalienable rights,” said President Biden in a written statement.
“This idea was at the core of America’s founding. … And today, this idea beats in the hearts of millions who march, fight, and sacrifice for the innate liberties we deserve as humans. Around the world — from China to Burma, Afghanistan to Iran, Ethiopia to Ukraine, and beyond — courageous people are standing up to abuses of power, staying strong amid threats to their lives, and speaking out against violations of their fundamental freedoms,” said President Biden.
“The United States stands fully with these brave women and men fighting for their basic human rights in the face of oppression and injustice — and we always will.”