"I call on States to honour their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account. "
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
December 10th is Human Rights Day, which is a special human rights holiday that was created to remind us of the universal human rights that we all share as human beings. The date December 10th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is considered the standard of human rights protection and description.
With every year, there is a new theme for Human Rights Day and there are often special activities to go along with it. In 2012, the campaign was “My Voice Counts,” and the UN encouraged people to use the hashtag #VoiceCount to talk about the human right of participating in public forums and political decision-making. There was even a large Google Hangout where Navi Pillay answered questions from the large audience. The theme in 2009 was “Speak Up, End Discrimination.” It focused on being an advocate for ending discrimination in one’s own community on December 10th and everyday of the year. 2006’s theme was “Fighting Poverty - A Matter of Obligation, Not Charity,” which emphasized the fact that poverty was a direct product and a cause of the violation of human rights. It placed the responsibility of fighting poverty on the shoulders of the global community.
In 2014, the theme is “Human Rights 365.” The idea is that we shouldn’t think of human rights only on Human Rights Day, but 365 days each year - every day of the year, in other words. It highlights the fact that each of us have innate human rights that cannot be taken away, and that this full range of human rights belong to each of us equally. As such, we are bound together as a global community and must fight together to protect these precious human rights.
Human Rights Day is a great way to remember and celebrate our human rights, but remember: we need to focus on human rights throughout the entire year. It’s such an important cause that we can’t just think about it one day out of the year. We need to constantly be battling for the cause of human rights to make change happen.