UN: International Human Rights Day 2007

[10 December 2007] - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) will turn 60 on 10 December 2008. Human Rights Day 2007 will launch a year-long UN system-wide advocacy campaign to mark this important milestone.

The theme of the campaign, which will be led by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be “Dignity and Justice for All of Us” – the promise that has made this document so enduring. It is designed to help people everywhere to learn more about their human rights throughout 2008 and to better understand the relevance of the Universal Declaration in their lives today.

Since its adoption in 1948, the Declaration has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

An essential element in the protection of human rights is a widespread knowledge and understanding among people of what their rights are and how they can be defended. The Declaration is now available in over 360 languages and is the most translated document in the world – a testament to its universal nature and reach.

Speaking on the day, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon said: “The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted. But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone. Too often, Governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.

This anniversary year is an occasion to build up that will. It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality - that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists - and that it exists for them.”

The year-long commemoration will continue to raise awareness about the Declaration and its relevance to people around the world. The campaign aims to engage the wide participation of individuals and institutions - from global organisations to grassroots advocacy groups – to make the Declaration a reality for all.

To mark the day, the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) in Brussels has created a new website, http://www.KnowYourRights2008.org. The interactive website enables people to upload and download multimedia files and share their European projects and initiatives on the Universal Declaration. The website includes a children’s rights corner here: http://www.knowyourrights2008.org/index.php?nav=childrens.

International Day of Human Rights: Student conference

Every year a student conference is held to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the theme of the conference changes each year, the goals of this annual event remain the same: to promote awareness and prompt action among student leaders about human rights in general, as well as the specific rights issues related to the current year’s theme.

This year’s theme, which will take place from 5-7 December 2007, is “Recognising the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

This conference supports the goals of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, which aims to strengthen cooperation for finding solutions to problems faced by indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples are entitled to enjoy all existing human rights. These rights are set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948). However, too many indigenous people find themselves in positions where their basic human rights are violated daily.

On 29 June 2006, the Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with a view to eliminating human rights violations endured by over 370 million indigenous people worldwide.

The Human Rights Council, upon its adoption of the Declaration, recommended that the General Assembly also adopt the Declaration. However, the process of adoption was postponed by the Third Committee of the General Assembly in December 2006 because of reservations by several Member States.

After twenty years of debate, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was finally adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007 after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against it. The Declaration emphasises the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full participation in all matters that concern them, as well as their right to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

The 2007 UN Students Human Rights Conference aims to raise awareness about indigenous people and their important contributions to society globally, highlighting the significance of this action towards achieving a just and non-discriminatory international human rights policy, and encouraging Member States to implement the Declaration at the national level.

The 2007 UNSCHR conference will bring together 60 young people from around the world at the UN Headquarters in New York for discussion, collaboration, and action related to the rights of indigenous peoples.

Prior to the conference, participants will conduct their own research on universal human rights and those specific to indigenous peoples, and share their ideas across cultures through a web-based forum on the UN Cyberschoolbus website.

During the conference, student representatives in New York will work with students from other countries participating by videoconferencing and web-casting to develop a consensus on these issues and draft a Plan of Action. The President of the UN General Assembly will be asked to attend the final day of the conference to accept the Plan of Action from the chairperson of the conference and, as in past years, request its dissemination to UN Member States.

Statements made on International Human Rights Day 2007

Further information


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.