Human Rights Day-December 10
What is it?
Sixty-two years ago, on December 10th, 1948, the United Nations ratified a declaration that seems so obvious a child could recognize the principles it upholds. Yet despite becoming the foundation of international law, it remains largely unenforceable in many of the world’s countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a seminal document that asserts the inalienable rights of all people everywhere and is founded on the core values of non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality.
December 10th, Human Rights Day, marks the anniversary of the UDHR and serves as a recognition of global commitment to upholding the rights of all persons and that the guarantee of human rights is essential to the life of dignity that all people deserve.
- The UDHR consists of 30 Articles, the first of which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. The articles detail rights regarding protection from slavery, torture, discrimination based on any factor (including race, age, gender...), access to legal protection, own property, freedom of thought and religion, peaceful assembly, the right to work, standards of living, and the right to education among others.
- The UDHR is considered a “living document” that belongs to all people of the world. We all own it, we are all protected by it, and we are all obligated to respect it’s tenets.
- With translation into over 360 languages, the UDHR is the most translated document in the world.
- Human Rights Day is the traditional date of awarding the yearly Nobel Peace Prize (a prize which has only been awarded to 11 women out of the 120 times it has been awarded) as well as the UN Prize for the Field of Human Rights, awarded every five years (in 2008 it was awarded to Louise Arbour of Canada, the former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights).
- Despite originally being a non-binding resolution, the UDHR has acquired the force of International Customary Law and is invocable by nations and other judiciary bodies.
- Numerous countries around the world, including Canada, continue to struggle with making the principles of universal equality and freedom a lived reality. According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s Annual Report 2009, the main focus in Canada is Aboriginal Issues, with the next two areas of focus: the rights of persons with disabilities and race relations. Women within these three marginalized groups remain the most vulnerable populations in Canada. Most recently, calls for an inquest into human rights violations against protesters at the G20 Summit in Toronto have tarnished Canada’s human right’s record.
What can I do?
- Along with a community group or group of like-minded friends and family, sponsor a full-page ad in the local community newspaper and publish the 30 articles that make up the UDHR (a 2 page pdf format is available at http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/udhr60/hrphotos/declaration%20_eng.pdf
- Join websites and newsgroup dedicated to upholding human rights in Canada and around the world to stay informed and join in planned actions. Some examples include; Human Rights Watch at www.hrw.org (sign up for their alerts, breaking news, actions plans...); Unifem at www.unifem.org ( a part of UN Women, which “places the advancements of woman’s human rights at the centre of all its efforts”) and the Canadian site of Amnesty International www.amnesty.ca
- Create a book club that is dedicated to reading and discussing human rights issues, how they directly impact our everyday lives, and what we, as human beings, can do to make a difference. Start with “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Freidan (while the vast majority of us reap the benefits of the women’s rights achieved as a result of this ground-breaking work, few have read the original for ourselves) and check out the reading list at http://www.care2.com/causes/womens-rights/blog/the-feminist-summer-reading-list/
- Mobilize established community groups to write letters to media, politicians and corporate leaders calling for action and demanding a tangible response to violations of human rights. Faith groups, civic groups (like the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Civitans...), and Women’s Groups are all ideal candidates for group engagement in the political process.
- Action Now!
- What We Think!
- Action Tools
- Equity Calendar
- International Women's Day
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- Mother's Day
- Pride Week
- National Aboriginal Solidarity Day
- Labour Day
- National Day of Vigils to Remember Murdered and Missing
- International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
- 16 Days of Activism
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
- World AIDS Day
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Human Rights Day
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