‘End Discrimination of Any Kind; Address Inequalities; Encourage Participation and Solidarity…’ – Human Rights Day

On the left we see someone carrying a child who is touching a windw while an eldely person touches the window on the opposite side. On the right we see a couple leaning on each other's shoulders while wearing face masks.
Left: A mother stands with her daughter, visiting senior parents but observing social distancing with a glass door between them – Right: A Navajo husband comforts his wife because of lost jobs and income, COVID-19 shutdown. PHOTO:Left: ©Getty Images/RyanJLane – Right: ©Getty Images/grandriver

10 December 2020 (United Nations)* — Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

2020 Theme: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

10 December is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity.

Under UN Human Rights’ generic call to action “Stand Up for Human rights”, we aim to engage the general public, our partners and the UN family to bolster transformative action and showcase practical and inspirational examples that can contribute to recovering better and fostering more resilient and just societies.

A voter displays proof of having exercised her voice at the ballot box in Timore-Leste’s parliamentary elections. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

Human rights are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as in the absence of human dignity we cannot hope to drive sustainable development. Human Rights are driven by progress on all SDGs, and the SDGs are driven by advancements on human rights. Find out how UN agencies strive to put human rights at the centre of their work.

UN Secretary-General’s Message


The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced two fundamental truths about human rights.

First, human rights violations harm us all.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups including frontline workers, people with disabilities, older people, women and girls, and minorities.

It has thrived because poverty, inequality, discrimination, the destruction of our natural environment and other human rights failures have created enormous fragilities in our societies.

At the same time, the pandemic is undermining human rights, by providing a pretext for heavy-handed security responses and repressive measures that curtail civic space and media freedom.

The second truth highlighted by the pandemic is that human rights are universal and protect us all.

An effective response to the pandemic must be based on solidarity and cooperation.

Divisive approaches, authoritarianism and nationalism make no sense against a global threat.

People and their rights must be front and centre of response and recovery. We need universal, rights-based frameworks like health coverage for all, to beat this pandemic and protect us for the future.

My Call to Action for Human Rights spells out the central role of human rights in crisis response, gender equality, public participation, climate justice and sustainable development.

On Human Rights Day and every day, let’s resolve to act collectively, with human rights front and centre, to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build a better future for all.

António Guterres

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Message

This year’s Human Rights Day falls at a time we will never forget. COVID-19 has taken us by storm and shaken our world. A tragedy followed by an extraordinary opportunity to recover better.

This Human Rights Day is a call to action. A call for all of us to seize this opportunity and build the world we want. For that, we must accept the lessons from this crisis.

One: end discrimination of any kind. Like pre-existing conditions that make individuals more fragile, gaps in respecting human rights have made all of society more vulnerable. If anyone is at risk, everyone is at risk. Discrimination, exclusion and other human rights violations harm us all.

Two: reduce widespread inequalities. Universal social protection, universal health coverage, and other systems for the delivery of fundamental rights are not luxuries. They keep societies standing and can shape a more equitable future.

Three: encourage participation, especially from young people. All voices have a right to be heard.

Four: increase and intensify our resolve and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, a concrete Agenda for universal human rights. These are not just the right things to do –they are the smart things to do. And there is only one way they can be done: by standing up for human rights. Because human rights yield fair and resilient societies. They are the answer to this human crisis.

Like the climate emergency, COVID-19 reminds us that we are bound together as one humanity.

We must act. Working together, we can recover better.

With strong solidarity, we can build a world that is more resilient, sustainable and just.

Join me in standing up for human rights.

Michelle Bachelet

poster for human rights day 2020

Human Rights must be at the centre of the post COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 crisis has been fuelled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection. Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build back a world that is better, more resilient, just, and sustainable.

  • End discrimination of any kind: Structural discrimination and racism have fuelled the COVID-19 crisis. Equality and non-discrimination are core requirements for a post-COVID world.
  • Address inequalities: To recover from the crisis, we must also address the inequality pandemic. For that, we need to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights. We need a new social contract for a new era.
  • Encourage participation and solidarity: We are all in this together. From individuals to governments, from civil society and grass-roots communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We need to ensure the voices of the most affected and vulnerable inform the recovery efforts.
  • Promote sustainable development: We need sustainable development for people and planet. Human rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the cornerstone of a recovery that leaves no one behind.

2020 Campaign materials are available here and 2020 events are available here

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Cover of the illustrated version of the UDHR.

The illustrated edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created and designed in a partnership between the artist Yacine Ait Kaci (YAK) creator of Elyx, the UN Regional information Centre (UNRIC), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Regional Office for Europe (OHCHR).

*SOURCE: United Nations. Go to ORIGINAL.

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