Human Rights Day 2013

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

This is Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

  To realise freedom and equality in dignity and rights for all women and men, we must do everything to support countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Irina Bokova
UNESCO Director-General

As the first universal instrument recognizing the inherent dignity of every member of the human family, the Declaration embodied centuries of thinking – it marked also the start of concerted global efforts to realise human rights in all circumstances.

A major step was taken in 1993, with the creation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Adopted 20 years ago, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action remain sharply relevant today, reaffirming the universality of human rights, their inter-relatedness and importance for development. Great strides have been taken since then, but full respect for the exercise of human rights remains elusive.

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals set an ambitious humanist agenda, which has catalysed significant progress in many countries. However, 2.7 billion women and men still live with just over 2 dollars a day. Access to quality education is still a dream for millions of girls and women. The most disadvantaged parts of societies continue to be victim to exclusion, abuse and violence. At the same time, the rule of law remains weak in many countries, and freedom of opinion and expression face rising threats.

To realise freedom and equality in dignity and rights for all women and men, we must do everything to support countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We need to meet the promises made in 2000, while setting a new ambitious sustainable development agenda to follow, concentrating on the elimination of extreme poverty across the world. Poverty elimination is a foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development – this is a key lesson of the last 65 years. This should be our new global agenda for human rights, with a special focus on the rights of women and their empowerment.

The 20th anniversary of Vienna Conference is an opportunity for all Governments, societies, women and men to rally together and look forward. Great progress has been made since 1948 and 1993, but much hard work still lies ahead to make dignity and rights a reality for all.

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2013

New Edition

Human Rights: Questions and Answers


Human Rights: Questions and Answers
By Leah Levin with cartoons by Plantu

New edition published in January 2013

Join the celebration

  • Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Do you know what your rights are? UDHR has been translated into at least 398 languages and dialects

  • Take part in human rights campaigns of the day.

  • Organize lecture series, film series, book discussions, workshops, seminars,  debates and symposia on human rights.

  • Wear a t-shirt on Human Rights Day. Make or have a t-shirt made just stating that it is Human Rights Day. Or write out a specific article from the United Nations Declaration.

  • Get out and help people within your community.