Anniversary of Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day, the 69th Anniversary of the day the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a day to remember all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Every year, we celebrate Human Rights Day with our Write for Rights campaign. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world send a letter and sign a petition on behalf of someone they’ve never met, as part of Write for Rights.

Letter writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty International’s human rights campaigning, and 55+ years of human rights activism shows us that it still works. Our messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion and standing up for human rights.

Take action with us today and celebrate Human Rights Day by asking that the Egyptian government release Hanan Badr el-Din, who has been searching for her missing husband since July 2013.

Hanan searched for her husband at police stations, prisons, hospitals and morgues. No one could tell her what had happened to him. Her husband is one of hundreds of people missing at the hands of Egypt’s security forces.

Every day, an estimated three to four people – mostly political activists, students, protesters, even school children as young as 14 – are taken by Egyptian police or military, never to be seen again. Yet the Egyptian government claims that disappearances don’t exist in the country. Take action with Amnesty International USA now to ask for Hanan Badr el-Din’s release.

Hanan was not dissuaded in her search to find her husband, and we will not be dissuaded in petitioning for her release. Her latest attempt to get information about her husband has seen her arrested — take action now to ask for Hanan Badr el-Din’s release immediately.


Margaret Huang

Executive Director
Amnesty International

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December every year.

The date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.

The day is normally marked both by high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organizations.

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Logo, unveiled in New York on 23 September 2011
Also called HRD
Observed by UN Members
Celebrations United Nations
Begins 1948; 69 years ago
Date 10 December
Next time 10 December 2017
Frequency annual


Human Rights Day is the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950, after the Assembly passed resolution 423(V) inviting all States and interested organizations to adopt 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. The popularity of the day can be shown by the fact that the commemorative Human Rights Day stamp issued by the United Nations Postal Administration in 1952, received approximately 200,000 advance orders.

When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”, towards which individuals and societies should “strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance”. The measure was received by both advocates and critics alike as “being more declarative than legislative, more suggestive than binding.”

Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civileconomic, social and cultural rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasizes the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main United Nations rights official, and his Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day:

Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime… Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.

The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurred on 10 December 2008, and the UN Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign leading up to this anniversary. Because the UDHR holds the world record as the most translated document (except for the Bible), organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere learn about their rights.

On 9 December 2001, President George W. Bush made a Presidential proclamation that Human Rights Week began on 9 December. He also made the same proclamation on 10 December 2008.

Press Releases: International Human Rights Day

Sixty-nine years ago today, in the aftermath of World War II, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to recognize and elevate the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all individuals, and that these rights are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.

NDP Statement On International Human Rights Day

On the 69 anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, New Democrats stand in solidarity with activists and advocates around the world, in reaffirming our commitment to fight for equality and dignity for all.

Today, we remember that in many parts of the world, people are still persecuted for their gender, race, religion, beliefs, age, sexual orientation, language, or simply for seeking the truth. Canada must remain resolute in denouncing all violations to our inalienable human rights, as they are the foundation of all free and democratic societies.

The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. The NDP is proud of the work we have done – and continue to do – to stand up for the rights of all people, in Canada, and around the world.
In particular, it is important to recognize the work of our MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik -Eeeyou, Romeo Saganash. His Bill C-262 enshrines the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in Canadian law, and takes a concrete step towards ensuring that in Canada, the human rights of Indigenous peoples are not negotiable.

Today, I invite all Canadians to take actions in our daily lives to uphold the rights that protect us all, and to fight all activities that undermine our human rights.

Freedom, equality, justice, and human dignity can never be taken for granted.’

International Human Rights Day

Media release

10 December 2017

Today marks the anniversary of one of the most significant commitments ever made by the international community – the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long campaign by the UN, in the lead up to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration in 2018.

As a founding member of the United Nations, Australia’s commitment to human rights is strong and enduring.

On 1 January 2018, Australia will take up our three-year membership of the UN Human Rights Council, the peak international body for promoting and protecting human rights.

Australia’s case for election to the Human Rights Council was based on the unshakeable principle that human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable.

During our term we will focus on gender equality, freedom of expression, good governance and robust democratic institutions, human rights for indigenous peoples and strong national human rights institutions.

As the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper notes, a shared rulebook will sustain security and prosperity for Australia and the world. The Human Rights Council plays a vital part in that world order, standing second in importance only to the UN Security Council.

Australia is committed to working constructively and collaboratively with other countries and civil society to continue to protect and advance human rights to ensure Australia and the world is safer and more secure.

For more information, see the DFAT website on Australia’s membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council 2018-2020.

  • Minister’s office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555


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