Respect for the rights in every aspect of living is a precondition for having a healthy society and environment. Every individual is entitled to Human Rights since birth, and there should be no discrimination for enjoying these inherent rights. It includes the right to living and freedom in various forms.
There are a number of internationally protected rights established by the United Nations, including social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights, and the mechanisms to promote and protect these rights are also defined. It constitutes both rights and obligations to be respected, protected and fulfilled by all nations.
Human Rights Day was formally established on December 4, 1950, during the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, two years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was itself a “milestone document in the history of human rights”, and for the first time, it set out the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The celebration of Human Rights Day on December 10 every year is the prime time for the promotion and observance of such rights.
The United Nations has announced “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights” as the central theme of Human Rights Day in 2019. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN says that it’s the time to celebrate the role of young people in bringing human rights to life: “I call on everyone to support and protect young people who are standing up for human rights.
In “Stand Up for Human Rights” campaign led by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN aims to “celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in his statement for Human Rights Day in 2019, while emphasizing the role of youth and calling them “the living expression of human rights” stated that:
“We can, and must, uphold the painstakingly developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice, and sustainable development. A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backward, into a darker past when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint.”
She also referred to the intensifying climate crisis and its impacts on the livelihood of people, the “deepening” inequalities and forced displacement of the most vulnerable communities as a result of the climate change: “The global climate emergency presents perhaps the most profound planet-wide threat to human rights that we have seen since World War II”.
While Human Rights Day is accompanied by special events, conferences, and meetings organized by various governmental or non-governmental organizations, it is the day when the prizes for the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded.
For creating a change, we should always start from ourselves and anything that surrounds us. We should be aware of our own rights and respect others’ rights in an equal measure. It may sound simple, but it would need extra attention, as some people are not well-informed even about their own rights.
Being aware of the rights leads us in the right direction in making more effective decisions; decisions that may affect not only our lives but also the lives of many other humans in the interconnected human society all over the world.
“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.” Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights
Further reading: https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-rights-day