World Human Rights Day 2022: History, Significance, Theme; All You Need To Know

This day is widely recognised to raise awareness about people’s social, cultural, political and religious rights. Through this article, let's dive deep into the day’s history and events that led to its constitution.

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In a bid to ensure the fundamental rights of every human being, irrespective of their caste, gender, race, religion, sex, nationality and so on, back in 1948's December 10, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Since then, December 10 has been an important day to remind humanity of the rights they deserve, and the rights they violate.

This day is widely recognised to raise awareness about people’s social, cultural, political and religious rights.

Through this article, let's dive deep into the day’s history and events that led to its constitution.

Human Rights Day 2021: History

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is globally recognised as a a milestone document that is available in more than 500 language.

According to the United Nation's official website,this document is said to be the most translated document in the world.

There have been multiple precursors to the 20th-century document and to name a few, it would be -- the Magna Carta drafted in 1215, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1791 and so on. However, when these documents were translated it was found out that the policies ignored women, people of colour, race and religion.

Birth of UN and what led to the adoption of UDHR

World War II and it's serious aftermaths apparently necessitated the need to emphasize on the subject of human rights as the mass extermination of the Jews, people with disabilities, homosexuals and others by Nazi Germany shook the world. These darkest chapters of human history brought together the need to protect the rights of people from various walks of life, against the inhumane abuses of governments and rulers.

Eventually, governments of various countries pledged to the formation of an international body (the United Nations) to safeguard the rights of people, especially the one lacking ‘power’. The essence of these human rights principles first found its place in US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address in 1941. In his address, commonly known as ‘Four Freedoms’, the 32nd US President talked about a world that should stand on four essential freedoms -- freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from want and fear.

Largely influenced by Roosevelt’s speech, the voices from across the world came together to support the drafting of the United Nations Charter in 1945 in San Fransico.

Eventually, the member states of the UN established a Commission on Human Rights on February 16, 1946, to draft a document that will articulate the fundamental rights and freedom proclaimed in the Charter. Under the ‘forceful’ leadership of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady of the US, the Commission came out with the UDHR, which was adopted by the 56 member countries on December 10, 1956.

What is the UDHR?

The Preamble of UDHR reads: “[R]ecognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”

Commonly referred to as the international Magna Carta, the UDHR pronounces the international law that tells a government the way its citizens must be treated irrespective of gender, class, sex, social background, religion and so on. The Charter, although not a legally binding document, realises that the treatment meted out to a country’s citizen is of international concern, and not limited to the domestic borders.

International bodies have recognised the Charter "as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations."

It claims that all rights are ‘interdependent’ and ‘indivisible’.

Currently, the principles of the UDHR have been incorporated into the constitutions of most member countries of the UN.

Theme: Dignity, freedom and Justice for all

Thi year marks the 75th anniversary of the UDHR. To celebrate this milestone, a year-long campaign will be launched on December 10 this year to showcase the UDHR, emphasising on its legacy, relevance, and activism. The campaign will be centred around the theme, “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All."