Human Rights Day

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Declaration of Human Rights (photo source: UN)


As the world remembers and celebrates the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, it’s fitting that on December 10th the world also celebrates Human Rights Day. This year is the 65th anniversary of Human Rights Day and the 20th anniversary of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.


Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10th because on this date in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The UDHR recognizes and protects the equal rights of all humans, including those rights violated by human trafficking. Article 4 reads, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Today, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, five recipients of this year’s Human Rights Prize will be honored at an award ceremony. One of this year’s five winners is Biram Dah Abeid, founder and president of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), a Mauritanian anti-slavery organization. In his anti-slavery work, Biram Dah Abeid overcame harassment, detention, and torture to become a prominent defender of human rights.

Clearly, the struggle for human rights doesn’t only happen one day a year. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Selected stories on Human Rights Day (to be updated throughout the day):

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