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

The date was chosen to honor 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. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plentary 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.[1][2]

The day is a high point in the calendar of UN headquarters in New York City, United States, and is normally marked by both 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 nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organisations.

The theme for 2006 was the struggle against poverty, taking it as a human rights issue. Several statements were released on that occasion, including the one issued by 37 United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders

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.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, 10 December 2006

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 (with more than 360 language versions available), organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere learn about their rights.


Past Observances




  • In an irony of fate, former Chilean president/dictator Augusto Pinochet, known for human rights violations committed during his authoritarian rule, died of a heart attack on 10 December 2006, at the age of 91.[6]


  • Gay rights activists in the U.S. state of California urged people to support equal rights by "calling in 'gay'" to work.[7] This was in response to the renewed ban on gay marriage when Proposition 8 passed earlier in the year.
  • Several people were detained in China after around 300 people signed an online petition titled Charter 08 for the government to improve human rights in the country. In Beijing, a small protest was broken up that took place outside the foreign ministry.[8]
  • UNYA Australia celebrated Human Rights Day with the write4rights campaign, asking young people to contribute a message about human rights by phone or on a website for display in Australian State capital cities.[9]
  • Celebrations took place in Phnom Penh and around Cambodia, including a march by 5000 people, and a further 1000 people releasing balloons, organised by NGOs.[11]


10 December 2009 marked the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tom Malinowsky from Human Rights Watch in the U.S. state of Washington commented that there had been progress in human rights over the last 40 years" "I think there is greater awareness around the world that people have fundamental rights and that those rights are enshrined in both law domestically and internationally".[14]

Date variance

See also


  1. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 423(V) session 5 on 4 December 1950 (retrieved 2009-10-29)
  2. ^ Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (2009). "The History of Human Rights Day". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  3. ^ "A global campaign against Internet censorship and the long-term imprisonment of cyber-dissidents in Asia". PEN American Center. Retrieved 15 December 2006. 
  4. ^ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (10 December 2004). "On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the UN, Inter-American and African protection mechanisms call on governments to protect human rights defenders.". Press release. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Satellite Imagery for Conflict Prevention and Human Rights: An Event in Honor of Human Rights Day 2006". The American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science and Human Rights Program. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2006. 
  6. ^ Catan, Thomas and Crooks, Nathan (2006). "General Pinochet, 91, dies awaiting trial for murder". London: The Times.,,3-2498310,00.html. Retrieved 11 December 2006. 
  7. ^ "" Calling in 'Gay' to Work Is Latest Form of Protest" ABC News". Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "Chinese police detain protesters", BBC, 10 December 2008.
  9. ^ "Write4Rights". Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  10. ^ "Abuses persist as UN rights declaration turns 60", AFP, December 10, 2008.
  11. ^ "Inequality is fuelling rights violations, UN warns govt", December 10, 2008.
  12. ^ "International Human Rights Day marked in Russia", ITAR-TASS, December 10, 2008.
  13. ^ "Students celebrate Human Rights Day", Times of India, December 10, 2008.
  14. ^ "International Human Rights Day Marks Progress and Setbacks - Human rights advocates say the world has come a long way but some countries can do better"
  15. ^ "Human Rights Day". South African Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 15 December 2006. 

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