December 10 marked the 64th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights. Each year, Human Rights Day presents an opportunity to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of human rights by all people.
Every year on 10 December, Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration. It is celebrated around the globe that “All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms”. This year’s Human Rights Day theme was Inclusion and the right to participate in public life. Everybody has the right to have their voice heard and to have a role in making the decisions that shape their communities. Each one of us should be able to choose those people who will represent us in all governance institutions, to stand for public office, and to vote on the fundamental questions that shape our individual and collective destinies.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, released a statement on Human Rights Day:
Millions of people have gone on to the streets over the past few years, in countries all across the world, emboldened by what is happening elsewhere, some demanding civil and political rights, others demanding economic, social and cultural rights.
This groundswell is not simply a question of people demanding freedom of expression and freedom to say what they think and make clear what they want.
They are asking for much more than that. They are asking for an end to a situation where governments simply decide what is best for their populations without even consulting them. They are asking for their right to participate fully in the important decisions and policies affecting their daily lives, at the international, national and the local levels. Many people in many countries have been making it clear they are fed up with their leaders treating them with disdain and ignoring their needs, ambitions, fears and desires.
They have been, in effect, asking for what has been, for more than sixty years, under international law, rightfully theirs.
This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.
These human rights — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration) have been at the center of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.
This year, in celebration of Human Rights Day, add your voice to the conversation!