10 December marks the date over fifty years ago when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, with its vision of a world in which all might enjoy rights and freedoms without discrimination.
This historic document outlines the human rights standards the UN believes should be enforced by all nations – among them “the right to life, liberty and nationality, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to work, to be educated, and to take part in government.”
That day in 1948 could arguably be called the birth of the modern human rights movement. With widely agreed-upon universal standards in place, “atrocities” could be more concretely labeled “violations” and could be more readily acted against. States that have embraced these standards have, for more than half a century, observed December 10 as Human Rights Day.
“Human rights are our common heritage and their realisation depends on the contributions that each and every one of us is willing to make, individually and collectively, now and in the future.”
Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights