Today is the 60th anniversary of international Human Rights Day! Today marks the culmination of a yearlong campaign to:
“Increase knowledge and awareness of human rights among the largest number of rights holders so that they can claim and enjoy their rights”.
This is a day when many organizations and governments reaffirm their commitment to the:
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR)
Begun in 1946 with Eleanor Roosevelt as chair of the Commission, this document was billed as the “Magna Carta for all Humanity”. It’s adoption by the General Assembly on December 10th, 1948 was the culmination of an exceedingly difficult task for the participating 18 member states (c0untries). In the end 48 countries voted for adoption, 8 abstained and 2 countries were not present. It’s interesting to compare then with today:
[In favour: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Siam (Thailand), Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela. Abstaining: Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian SSR, Union of South Africa, USSR, Yugoslavia. The General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration 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”.]
A full and simplified download version of the Declaration is available on the website. The simplified version took me around 13 minutes on dial up, and was 31 pages long. They are written as articles of intent and they make a very interesting read.
To date, it has been printed in 337 languages. Basic characteristics of the UDHR are:
This year will also mark an award presentation year. Every five years an honorarium is presented to persons or organizations recoginizing outstanding achievements in the field of human rights. In 2008 six individuals and one organisation have been awarded the prize. The winners are: Louise Arbour, Benazir Bhutto (posthumous), Ramsey Clark, Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Dr. Denis Mukwege and Sr. Dorothy Stang (posthumous). The organisation, Human Rights Watch is also a recipient.
Wikipedia does not currently have an English page for Jamacian activist Dr. Carolyn Gomes.
If you are interested in learning more, The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations has a web page with a great deal of information and campaign materials available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Go HERE.
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