Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Today, Tuesday, December 10, is Human Rights Day. It is the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an annual commemoration of those who strive for human rights - for themselves and for others. Given the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, it seems especially appropriate to take time this year to acknowledge those persons who have fought and continue to fight for human rights.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which created a common plan for strengthening human rights work around the world. It also called for the establishment of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which the UN General Assembly immediately acted upon. The first High Commissioner was installed in 1994. This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “20 Years Working for Your Rights.”
There are many actions you can take to support human rights. My local United Nations Association Chapter presents an annual Human Rights Day Award to a person or organization that has done significant work to advance human rights. This year, the award is being presented to the Marion Medical Mission and its founders for their work constructing tens of thousands of shallow wells to provide access to clean drinking water to persons in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. You could also advocate for the adoption of human rights treaties, such as the Disabilities Treaty or the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the strengthening of bodies to implement human rights. Or you could simply say thank you to someone in your community who works to advance human rights.