What is the Human Rights Day?

On December 10, Human Rights Day is celebrated and with this date, new challenges arrive when it comes to ensuring their respect.

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Group of people putting hands together. / Photo: Rawpixel - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es el Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos?

In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted for the first time the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The environment in which this declaration was given was after World War II, and the member states pledged to comply with what was agreed upon, as a way of ensuring that the abuses and violations that had occurred in the Holocaust were not repeated. On that date, 58 were the members; of which, according to UNHCR, 48 voted in favor, 8 abstained and 2 were not present.

From that intention came the main purpose of both the declaration and the organization itself: to prevent an upcoming world war from happening. Therefore, every December 10 there is a challenge for the UN because it exists in terms of Human Rights, but every day there are violations of all kinds and in every part of the world.

According to the UN, “the celebration of International Days gives us the opportunity to raise awareness among the general public about issues of interest, such as human rights, sustainable development or health. At the same time, they intend to call the attention of the media to signal to the public opinion that there is an unsolved problem. The objective is twofold: on the one hand that governments take action, and on the other that citizens know the problem better and require their representatives to act.”


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Today, 71 years after adopting this declaration, the UN and the States must consider new strategies and new models to achieve that goal and that the rights of all citizens of the world are not violated.

Threats to Human Rights

The UN High Commissioners for Human Rights has the challenge of helping the Nations so that Human Rights are respected, and these challenges and threats grow and transform over the years and also depend on the problems facing countries on their own although there are also some global threats.

This year, Human Rights Day comes at a time of social protests around the world: from Latin America, through Europe, to the Middle East. The protests have revealed one of the biggest obstacles to ensuring respect for human rights and it is the growing inequality that exists in the vast majority of countries.

Also read: Why are they protesting in France?

Inequality, especially in developing countries, has left millions of people without education, water, housing and other basic rights. For this reason, the protests have gained strength in these countries, where these, more than rights, have become a luxury. Faced with this, the UN has stated that “despite unprecedented progress in the fight against poverty, hunger, and disease, many societies are not functioning as they should. The common thread is inequality.” This has also increased perception, and at the same time a nonconformity, for the unequal distribution of wealth, especially in Latin America.

In the context of the protests, there is something also worrying and it is the human rights abuses within the framework of the demonstrations. Both the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights-focused organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed concern about violations that have been faced by protesters who take to the streets in a peaceful manner.

Nowadays, another of the highest risks and challenges that arise when talking about human rights is the damage to the environment and climate change that seems to be irreversible and threatens humanity as a whole. The UN has said that global warming is the biggest threat since World War II, which makes the fight against this one of the main axes of the organization.


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"Climate justice should not be the cause of a political confrontation, nor a matter of right or left-wings, but a matter of rights and grievances," said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is why the fight revolves around giving a 180º turn to life and consumption habits at both micro and macro levels.

Women and youth for Human Rights!

Like challenges, actions for human rights also change over time. Today is the time for young people and women, who have raised their voices to prevent abuse and to try to save the planet.

71 years ago it was Eleanor Roosevelt who served as president of the Drafting Committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the time, Roosevelt said: “Where do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home; in places so close and so small that they don't appear on any map. (...) If these rights mean nothing in these places, they also mean nothing anywhere else. Without coordinated citizen action to defend them in our environment, our will to progress in the rest of the world will be in vain.”

Also read: Women at COP25: gender day

Today, again a woman leads the attempt to enforce human rights: Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. For this December 10, Bachelet said that "we celebrate "the courage, clarity and principle of women, men and young people who are rising up peacefully, to create greater freedom and justice”


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Thus, it demonstrates the role that both young people and women have today. On the one hand, the role of empowered women has grown and thousands of women have stopped being silent to raise their voices to enforce their rights. Now they are the ones who fight for themselves, with massive movements like #MeToo.

On the other hand, young people have also proven to be at the forefront when it comes to enforcing rights and rejecting abuses and violations. An example of this has been demonstrations around the world, which have mostly had a high presence of young people who want to start building a country and a better future. The UN said that "under the umbrella of the generic appeal 'Defend Human Rights', our goal is to celebrate the potential of young people as constructive agents of change, expand their voices and involve a wide range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of these rights. "

In addition, in the great challenge of climate change and the preservation of the environment, young people and women have played a fundamental role. Greta Thunberg is just the sign that a generation has woken up and does not intend to continue waiting for others - "adults" - to generate change. Like her, hundreds of young people have joined environmental causes that have demonstrated the empowerment of a generation.

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