December 10 commemorates Human Rights Day, which recognizes the 1948 adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Proclaiming the inalienable rights all human beings are entitled to, it is the most translated document in the world.
The declaration followed the atrocities of World War II.
“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,” Eleanor Roosevelt once said. “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.”
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."#Auschwitz stands as a symbol of rejection of human rights. On #HumanRightsDay we should remember that #freedom, #equality & human rights are not given once and for all. We need to #protect them every single day. pic.twitter.com/rrxFxxytTY
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 10, 2020
Roosevelt served as chairperson for the UDHR’s drafting committee. As Cold War tensions were first beginning to rise, she used her prestige and credibility to push the drafting process toward a successful completion. Six years after her death, Roosevelt was awarded the UN Human Rights Prize.
In fact, a number of women helped mold the UDHR. Among them, Hansa Mehta is credited with altering “all men are born free and equal” to “all human beings are born free and equal” in Article 1 of the document. In India and abroad, Mehta fought for women’s rights and was the only other female delegate to the UN Commission on Human Rights, 1947-1948.
— AmnestyCanada (@AmnestyNow) December 10, 2020
Rigorous efforts must continue.
“This year, amid a pandemic and global protests, we are reminded of how much work remains to be done to root out the systemic inequities that continue to cut short lives and imperil livelihoods,” Biden said. “Every American— regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability— should be free to flourish in a society that values and defends equal justice for all.”
This year’s theme (Recover Better- Stand Up for Human Rights) highlights that human rights are essential to pandemic recovery efforts. The UN explains:
The COVID-19 crisis has been fueled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build back a world that is better, more resilient, just and sustainable.