On December 10, Human Rights Day is celebrated all around the world to help us remember that “All men are created equal” as President Thomas Jefferson first said it. Unfortunately, not everyone believes this beautiful adage and billions of people everywhere are striving to free themselves from poverty and to claim their rights.
In the opening of the United States Declaration of Independence, in 1776, President Thomas Jefferson wrote as follows:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Benjamin Franklin stylized the phrase and here is the final turn of phrase:
“All men are by nature equally free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government.All men must be equal to each other in natural law.”
On December 10, 1948, at Palais de Chaillot, in Paris, the United Nations’ General Assembly clarified the Charter’s references to the human rights resulting in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The formal establishment of Human Rights Day first happened on December 1950, at the General Assembly’s 317th Plenary Meeting and this year, we also celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration. They have helped to make significant advancements in the protection of human rights.
But human rights date back as far as the 12th century and, with this infographic below, you can learn about their evolution. The major dates reveal that humans have been concerned with their freedom and their rights for a lot longer than most people think.
With the recent death of Nelson Mandela, Human Rights Day has a whole new meaning as we also remember the man who fought all his life for equality amongst humans, whatever the color of their skin. But human rights don’t stop as that, there are many reasons why people all across the world fight for their freedom.
Whether it is violence against women, the abolition of oppression, to end apartheid or gay rights, everybody has the right to freedom, equality, and liberty, whoever you are. So today, remember that Human Rights Day has been instated to help advance human rights and to think about those who are not as fortunate as we, North Americans, are.
Click on infographic to enlarge
Photo credit: John Lemieux/Flickr