Human Rights Day
A celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
by Elissa Haney
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The historic document, often labeled a "Modern-Day Magna Carta," outlines the human rights standards the UN believes should be enforced by all nationsâamong them "the right to life, liberty and nationality, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to work, to be educated, [and] to take part in government."
That day in 1948 could arguably be called the birth of the modern human rights movement. With widely agreed-upon universal standards in place, "atrocities" could be more concretely labeled "violations" and could be more readily acted against. States that have embraced these standards have, since 1948, observed December 10 as Human Rights Day.
A Multinational Alliance
The human rights cause continues to thrive at the end of the century that saw its development. Newly independent nations have incorporated the UN's standards into their constitutions. Organizations such as Amnesty International (established in 1961) and Human Rights Watch (established in 1978), founded on the principles outlined in the Declaration, have successfully rallied the support of hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals worldwide.
Other International Human Rights Organizations
- Physicians for Human Rights, http://www.phrusa.org/
- Doctors Without Borders, http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
- Human Rights First, http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/index.asp
- Reporters Without Borders, http://www.rsf.org/
- Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/
- Anti-Slavery International, http://www.antislavery.org/
- Women for Women International, http://www.womenforwomen.org/mkdiff.html
- Madre, http://www.madre.org/
- International League for Human Rights, http://www.ilhr.org/
- One World, http://www.oneworld.net/
- Human Constitutional Rights, http://www.hrcr.org/
- Human Rights Internet, http://www.hri.ca/
- International Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, http://www.ohchr.org/english/
- International Rescue Agency, http://www.theirc.org/
- International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development , http://www.ichrdd.ca/
- UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org
- Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://www.psr.org/
- International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, http://www.ihf-hr.org/index.php
- International League of Human Rights, http://www.ilhr.org/
- The Carter Center, http://www.cartercenter.org/
- Corporate Watch, http://www.corpwatch.org/
- Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, http://www.business-humanrights.org/Home
- Did you know?
- For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity.