On December 10th, 1948, still stunned by the horrendous crimes committed against civilian populations during the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the time, one of the Declaration’s chief architects, former First Lady and member of the United States delegation to the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote “We have found that the conditions of our contemporary world require the enumeration of certain protections which the individual must have if he is to acquire a sense of security and dignity in his own person.”
Since 1950, the United Nations has celebrated December 10 as Human Rights Day. This day is best known for the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway; however, cultural events and exhibitions focused on various human rights themes take place around the world.
This year’s Human Rights Day marks the launch of a year-long campaign to highlight and preview the 50th anniversary of two important human rights documents: and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both documents were adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 16th, 1966.
Despite the tireless efforts and notable successes of numerous national and international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and activists all over the world, there is still much to be done.
On this Human Rights Day, let us resolve to work together as a community of like-minded nations to put an end to these abuses and to hold those responsible for inflicting them to account. Ultimately, our goal is to transform our observation of December 10 as a day not about highlighting human rights abuses across the globe, but rather about commemorating the realization of full and unobstructed human rights for all people, everywhere.