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Human Rights Day

December 10 is Human Rights Day. That is because the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The Commission on Human Rights began its work in January 1947 under the chairpersonship of Eleanor Roosevelt. In 30 articles, the Declaration sets forth basic rights and fundamental freedoms, to which all human beings everywhere in the world are entitled without any discrimination.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Universal Declaration as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” No UN member state has a perfect human rights record, but all UN member states should aspire to realize the Declaration’s 30 articles. The United Nations General Assembly has also adopted two covenants to formally implement the Universal Declaration: the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. No UN member state has currently adopted and implemented both of these covenants. That remains to be achieved in the future, but it is imperative that the adoption of these two covenants by all UN member states occurs as quickly as possible.

Both the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights categorically state that the realization of human rights is essential to the promotion and maintenance of world peace. On Human Rights Day, every UN member state and person should resolve to realize the Universal Declaration’s 30 articles.

This will begin the process of leading our troubled, interdependent world in a much more constructive direction. In too many parts of the world there are flagrant human rights violations and these must be eliminated is world peace is to prevail in the near future. This may be a daunting task, but it not unattainable, and should evoke humanity’s foremost efforts.

David Slive
UN Envoy, Amherst Unitarian Universalist Church

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