Dear colleagues and friends,
International Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10, 2021, to commemorate the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.
A drafting committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was established and included William Hodgson (Australia), John Humphrey (Canada), Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile), Dr. Peng Chung Chang (China), René Cassin (France), Charles Malik (Lebanon), Charles Dukes (United Kingdom) and Alexandre Bogomolov (USSR).
It is a milestone document in the history of human rights, which set out for the first time that fundamental human rights must be universally protected. It recognized that the inherent dignity and equal, and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The UDHR has 30 articles, some of which are reproduced below:
- Article 2 of UDHR states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country, or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
- Article 18 states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in a community with others, and in public or private to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
- Article 21 states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government. This will be expressed in periodic and genuine elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage, and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
- Article 23 states that everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired and paved the way for the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels. It has been translated into over 500 languages.
While we can be proud of the progress of the international community and nations since December 10, 1948, the reality is that many marginalized communities and individuals continue to suffer from the violation of their human rights. Therefore, on this International Human Rights Day, let’s commit to stand up for human rights. You can use the hashtag #StandUp4HumanRights, and follow the conversation on social media.
Stay safe, stay well!
President, National Consultation Team