"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and must act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. »
This is what is mentioned in the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed in Paris on December 10th, 1948, whose drafting was promoted by the United Nations for application in all member states. The Declaration of Human Rights is an ethical code of fundamental historical importance: for the first time in the history of humanity, in fact, a document that concerned all the people of the world without distinction was produced; for the first time it was written that there are rights that every human being must be able to enjoy for the only reason of existing. Every year on December 10th the International Day of Human Rights is celebrated, to commemorate the proclamation of this important document.
The aim of this day is to educate and raise awareness about respect for men as such and to remember the steps taken by society towards the respect of all human beings, against slavery and the abolition of individual rights. It is no coincidence that the day presents itself as a moment of confrontation and reflection to pay tribute to all human rights defenders who, through their actions, struggle to put an end to discrimination and injustice.
In 1993, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was established to protect and promote human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration.
The Declaration of Human Rights serves as an inspiring muse for another international treaty, namely the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR); adopted in the Council of Europe and signed in Rome on the 4th of November 1950, it can be defined as the purest and most complete form of protection of human rights, as it is legally binding. This Convention has made possible the creation of the European Court of Human Rights in 1959, which is based in Strasbourg and has as its main objective the respect of the rights established by the same Cedu. To protect human rights in Europe, the European Union Agency for Human Rights was set up in 2007, as an evolution of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia.
Human rights are the foundations of freedom, peace, development and justice and it is essential to make laws to protect and support human rights, just as men and women who are courageously struggling to protect their own and others' rights.
A number of UN peacekeeping operations have a human rights component. In total, UN activities in the field of human rights are currently carried out on the territory of 30 nations. They contribute to strengthening national capacities in the areas of human rights legislation, administration and education; investigate violations that are reported and assist governments in taking corrective measures where they are needed. The International Day of Human Rights is therefore one of the flagship events in the calendar of the United Nations headquarters and is honored with high-profile political conferences and cultural events such as exhibitions or concerts on the subject of human rights. Furthermore, the two most important awards in this field are traditionally attributed in this day, namely the UN Human Rights Prize, awarded in New York, and the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. We also have links to the Vienna Declaration and Action Program (VDPA) adopted by the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights in 1993; this meeting marked a fundamental moment to reaffirm the importance of the value of cooperation and to develop awareness of the North-South cleavage, as well as constituted a significant turning point in attitudes towards women.
Until now, human rights have rarely figured in the diagnoses or recipes suggested by the international community; instead, it would be good for governments to invest in human rights with the same conviction with which they invest in economic recovery.
The international law is clear: "Whoever you are, wherever you live, your voice counts".
Useful Links: some of the international organizations and NGO’s which are involved directly in human rights:
Read our article dedicated to the International Day of Human Rights: 10th of December 2018: 70 years of Human Rights Day in the section International Organizations