December 10th: International Human Rights Day

On December 10th, 1948, the United Nations ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a landmark document in human history. For the first time, a community of nation states formally recognized that all human beings have a right to not be enslaved, not to be oppressed, and not to live in fear. While the post-1948 world was potentially the bloodiest in human history, that such a set of baseline rules and standards exists at all is a positive step forward in creating a sane and humane world.

It is, of course, highly ironic that Lio Xiao Bo is receiving his Nobel Peace Price on International Human Rights Day.

To celebrate Human Rights Day, check out this cool visualization of products around the world produced using forced and child labor, products which are largely sold to wealthy nations such as the US. It is important to celebrate the ratification of documents such as the UDHR, but it is also important to recognize that we still have very much to do.

The preamble to the UDHR is below:

* Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
* Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
* Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
* Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
* Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
* Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
* Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
* Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

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About Pete Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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