International Human Rights Day is designated on the 10th of December every year. It was chosen because of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on the 10th of December, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. It was the first global declaration of human rights which was among the first major achievements of the United Nations. The formal launch of Human Rights Day happened during the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the 4th of December in 1950. That was when the General Assembly declared resolution 423 which invited all member states and other interested groups to celebrate the day.
International Human Rights Day is usually marked by high-level political conferences and meetings along with special cultural events and/or exhibitions that deal with vital human rights issues. Additionally, it is traditionally during the day that the five annual Nobel Peace Prize and United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights are awarded. Governmental and non-governmental groups and organizations that are active in the field of human rights also schedule special events for commemorating the day with the participation of many civil and social-cause organizations.
Purpose of International Human Rights Day
The Human Rights Day celebration this year will have a special purpose being devoted to the launch of a comprehensive campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights. The two covenants are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 16th of December, 1966.
The two covenants along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights form what is called the International Bill of Human Rights set out the civil, cultural, political, economic and social rights which are the birth right of every human being on the planet. The celebration will have a special theme which is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always” which is for promoting and raising awareness of the two Covenants during their 50th anniversary. The campaign will last one year and it will revolve around the theme of freedoms and rights specifically freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want. These freedoms reinforce the International Bill of Human Rights which are as relevant today as when they were initially adopted 50 years ago.
What You Can Do on International Human Rights Day?
- Use social media to spread awareness of International Human Rights Day and its advocacies
- Encourage your local television and radio stations to make a public service announcement.
- Organize an essay writing contest in your community and work with schools, newspapers and other organizations.
- Create an event in your community to help inform the public about vital human rights issues.
- Urge your local government officials to create an activity for Human Rights Day.
- Organize a fundraising event to support human rights causes.
- Invite human rights personalities to speak in a symposium.
- Distribute posters and other informative materials to spread awareness of important human rights issues.
- Volunteer for local and international organizations that fight for human rights.
Message on International Human Rights Day
On Human Rights Day, everyone is encouraged to stand for human rights and fight against human rights violations. This includes all countries especially those who are considered Member States of the United Nations. These states are reminded of their duty to fulfil the promises made during the Vienna Conference. We are all reminded of the basic rights we have as human beings.
Special Tips on International Human Rights Day
Here are tips for celebrating Human Rights Day in schools:
- Write an article for your school newspaper about the importance of human rights
- Stage a public reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Set up an expression wall where students can write about the meaning of human rights for them
- Make a viral video as a reminder of human rights day
- Start a Facebook and/or Twitter campaign to celebrate Human Rights Day
- Distribute flyers and other materials to spread awareness of the basic human rights
- Hold a candlelight vigil or any other special event
Human Rights Day is celebrated every year as a celebration of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also serves as a reminder that every human being has basic rights that no one should violate. Unfortunately, human rights violations are still rampant all over the world. This is why we all need to work continuously to fight for human rights.