UN Calls For Global Efforts to Make Every Day Human Rights Day

December 11, 2014
Editor: Amanda Wu
The United Nations calls for global efforts to make every day Human Rights Day. [UN/OHCHR]

The United Nations on December 10 marked Human Rights Days, saying that the universal reach of human rights should not be restricted to one day alone and calling for global efforts to make every day Human Rights Day.

The universal reach of human rights should be also extended to every day of the year, top UN officials said in observing Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10, a date when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Spearheaded by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), this year's observance -- celebrated under the banner of Human Rights 365 -- encompasses the idea that "every day is Human Rights Day" and that "each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights."

"On Human Rights Day we speak out," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said in his message to mark the Day. "We declare that human rights are for all of us, all the time: whoever we are and wherever we are from; no matter our class, our opinions, our sexual orientation."

Three years after the United Nations was founded, the General Assembly laid the cornerstone of contemporary human rights law: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, intended as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948, the day now observed worldwide as International Human Rights Day. Its 30 articles spell out basic civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that all human beings in every country should enjoy.

"Violations of human rights are more than personal tragedies," the secretary-general said. "They are alarm bells that may warn of a much bigger crisis."

As a result of those "alarms," Ban said his Human Rights Up Front campaign, launched in 2013, sought to anticipate violations before they degenerate into mass atrocities or war crimes while advancing the struggle against injustice, intolerance and extremism.

The initiative includes training UN staff on the world body's core purpose of promoting respect for human rights; providing member states with the information needed to respond to human rights violations; and ensuring that UN personnel around the world are more attuned to situations where there is a risk of serious human rights abuses and are equipped for the responsibilities that such potential crises entail.

The strategy also includes achieving more organizational coherence by strengthening engagement with the General Assembly, the UN Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and providing earlier and more streamlined support to teams on the ground before a crisis emerges; and better organization of human rights staff so that they can identify risks of serious violations of human rights that could lead to atrocities.

Underpinning all these activities will be better information management on threats and risks to populations for planning operational activities and for sharing with member states.

In his statement issued for the Day, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, echoed Ban's appeal and underscored the power of the Universal Declaration to "change the world."

"Human rights are not country-specific," Zeid said. "They are not a reward for good behavior or particular to a certain era or social group. They are the inalienable entitlements of all people, at all times and everywhere, 365 days a year."

As part of its celebration of the Day, OHCHR has launched a social media campaign encouraging the public to explain on a six- second Vine post why year-round human rights matter. The Vine videos will then be collected and published together on OHCHR's Storify account.

"The UN Human Rights Office stands with the millions of people around the world whose voices are denied," Zeid said, as he called on the public to join OHCHR "via social media or in person."

"Together, we must demand what should be guaranteed: our human rights, universal, indivisible, inalienable, for everyone, 365 days a year," Zeid added.

(Source: Xinhua)

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