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Human Rights Day

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 10th October, 2021 3 min read

Human Rights Day

Today (10/12/2021) is Human Rights Day

A poster for human rights day. A cartoon image of the earth with many hands radiating outwards.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."- Eleanor Roosevelt

Human Rights Day, celebrated on the 10th December, is an international event observed annually. The day is to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR, proclaimed after the Second World War, was one of the first major achievements of the newly established United Nations. It is a milestone document that sets out 30 articles of fundamental human rights that all individuals are entitled to no matter their race, colour, sex, religion, language, national or social origin, political opinion or other status. The declaration stipulates a shared standard of values for every individual globally. 

Each year there is a different theme for Human Rights Day, last year the theme was “Recover Better” and was centered around the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 theme focuses on equality, particularly “reducing inequalities and advancing human rights”. It is related to article one of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The theme is aligned with the United Nations 2030 agenda on “Leaving No One Behind”. 

This year’s theme is extremely important as the principles of article one are at the heart of human rights. It is important for all individuals to be treated equal no matter their background. While all human beings are born equal, deep rooted societal forms of discrimination, such as institutionalised racism, sexism, discrimination based on religion or sexuality deeply hinders this. Deep rooted societal prejudices have, and continue to be, a major barrier in achieving full equality. However, as Eleanor Roosevelt stated, in order for human rights, such as equality, to be achieved on a global scale it needs to be achieved on a smaller scale first. In order to reduce inequalities for people of colour, women, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, or LGBT individuals, every individual needs to uphold the fundamental human right of equality in their daily life. As Eleanor Roosevelt asserts “unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere” - global changes to deep rooted societal prejudices will not happen until active little changes are made everywhere. 

Today is not just an opportunity to honour the first global enunciation of human rights, but an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights. It is a day to celebrate the achievements made in terms of human rights to date, but also a day to reflect on what still needs to be done and how we can take action in our own lives.

Authored by British Online Archives

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