Let’s Proudly Recognize Universal Human Rights Month

December is Universal Human Rights Month. This is a time for people in the United States and across the globe to join together and stand up for the rights and dignity of everyone.

In addition to this month-long celebration, December 10 was Human Rights Day—a global holiday that marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.

Article I of the Declaration states that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” However, there are millions of people around the world who have never known or enjoyed this truth. These people face discrimination and persecution because of their race, national origin, sex, gender, religion, age, language, or other status.

The Beginnings

Universal Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In adopting the Declaration, the General Assembly proclaimed it as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”, towards which individuals and societies should “strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

The UN created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in response to the atrocities during World War II, such as the Holocaust. The Declaration details the human rights to which all people are entitled, such as:

  • Freedom from torture;
  • Freedom of expression: and
  • The right to seek asylum.

Likewise, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights went into effect in 1976. The Covenant has as its mission to promote and protect human rights such as:

  • The right to work in just and favorable conditions;
  • The right to social protection, to an adequate standard of living, and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being;
  • The right to education; and
  • The right to the enjoyment of benefits of cultural freedom and scientific progress.

In addition, there have been a number of international human rights treaties that have been adopted since 1945 to expand the body of international human rights law. Plus, the Human Rights Council was established in 2006 by the UN General Assembly to replace the 60-year-old United Nations Commission on Human Rights as the primary UN intergovernmental body responsible for human rights. The Human Rights Council is comprised of 47 State representatives and seeks to promote and protect human rights around the world by addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them. This includes responding to human rights emergencies.

Examples of Human Rights Violations

Human rights violations exits around the globe. A few examples include:

  • In Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army guerrillas have been kidnapping boys to train them as soldiers and girls to turn them into sex slaves of the commanders. The United Nations estimated that in 2002, as many as 20,000 children were controlled by the LRA;
  • Also in Uganda, the government has enacted legislation that creates stiffer penalties against gays and imposes life in prison for homosexual acts; and
  • Across the globe, the international sex trade is a significant issue that may involve as many as 27 million people; the sale of women and girls stems from gender inequality and is seen as acceptable in many countries.

Join the Fight For Universal Human Rights

You can join us in the fight for universal human rights by supporting a non-profit organization, such as Amnesty International, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Human Rights Watch, or the Simon Wiesenthal Center. These outstanding organizations are fighting for the rights and voices of people in our communities and throughout the world

The best way to celebrate Universal Human Rights Month is by working to find common ground with those around us who may not have the same background as we do. Remember that we were all born into the same world, we’re all humans, and our different races, religions, beliefs, and cultures shouldn’t divide us. So, during Universal Human Rights Month, take time to educate yourself. If another culture makes you anxious or apprehensive, or you have questions about a practice, find out about their history and what they do. The more you know, the better you’ll understand that they’re not people of which to be “afraid” or to dislike.

In addition, during Universal Human Rights Month you can:

  • Read a book about the Declaration of Human rights;
  • Research human rights in general;
  • Promote Universal Human Rights Month on social media:
  • Make an effort to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and equality; and
  • Educate others about why human rights for everyone are so critical to making the world a better place for us all.