“The Universal Declaration shows the way to common values and approaches that can help resolve tensions and create the security and stability our world craves." UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
10 December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of one of humanity's landmark global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The international community observes Human Rights Day every year. It commemorates the day in Paris in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 423 (V). The UDHR set out, for the first time, the ultimate human rights to be comprehensively protected. When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, it was decreed as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance".
Available in over 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world. This revolutionary document enshrines the incontrovertible rights everyone is entitled to, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. As the leading United Nations rights official, the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Volker Türk of Austria) and the Office of the High Commissioner play a significant role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day. The year-long initiative seeks to shift the needle of understanding and action towards a better knowledge of the UDHR's acclaim and its associated activism; focusing on progress and engagement culminates in a high-level event in December 2023, which announces global pledges and ideas for a vision of human rights, the 2023 theme is “Freedom, Equality and Justice for All”. Since the adoption of the UDHR, human rights have become more recognised and guaranteed globally, with the UDHR serving as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protection that focuses on vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and migrants.
The promise of the UDHR, dignity and equality in rights, has been under an unremitting assault in recent years as the world faces new challenges such as pandemics, conflicts, inequalities, vested interests, racism, and climate change. The values and rights enshrined in the UDHR guide our collective actions. Although the Declaration is not mandatory, it has inspired over 60 human rights instruments, constituting an international standard. Today, the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even more imperative. It stresses the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.
Latest and past observances of Human Rights Day:
2022 – 75th Anniversary of the UDHR
2021 - All human- All Equal
2020 - Recover Better
2019 - Youth Standing Up for Human Rights
2018 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70
2017 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70
2016 - Stand up for someone's rights today
2015 - Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.
2014 - #Rights365
2013 - 20 Years Working for Your Rights
2012 - My Voice counts
2011 - Celebrate human rights!
2010 - Speak up, Stop Discrimination
2009 - Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination
2007-2008 - 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2006 - Fighting Poverty: A Matter of Obligation, Not Charity
2005 - Torture and the Global Efforts to Combat it
2004 - Human Rights Education