In 1948, the world was repairing itself after World War Two. The conflict had involved 30 countries and taken 85 million causalities. An estimated six million had been murdered in the Holocaust. Political leaders were determined it should never happen again.
For three years, a special group was given the responsibility to define what rights human beings everywhere should expect. Finally, on 10 December 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt (former First Lady of the US and a political figure and activist in her own right) read out these rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Article one,” she began. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
In 30 articles, the declaration set out a list of rights and freedoms, including freedom from violence, freedom of expression, freedom from want, and freedom from discrimination on grounds of race, religion, and gender.
Now, 10 December is marked as Human Rights Day and a day to celebrate peace.
But while the Declaration is recognised globally, there are countries and individuals that do not grant people the rights they deserve. Over 40 million people are in slavery; millions face discrimination for religious beliefs, and the UN reports growing racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Muslim hatred.
How will you celebrate and fight for human rights this week?
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A short introduction to human rights and how they affect people around the world.
- Imagine you had the task of creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Write down three rights you think are essential to every human.
- Read Amnesty International’s information on North Korea, a country where “all forms of freedom of expression are repressed”. Write a blog post about the country and its violations of human rights.
- Research a famous person from history who was influential in gaining a fundamental human right. Create a short presentation about their life.