Our voice counts: Human Rights Day 2012

Our voice counts: Human Rights Day 2012

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This year, 2012, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalised — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making. The theme title is 'My Voice Counts'.

The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950, after the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V) inviting all States and interested organisations to adopt 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favour and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance".

Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasises the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main United Nations rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day.

Here we offer some resources for the Day, including Ekklesia's detailed and regularly updated news and comment feed on the subject, and reflection on the theological issues involved in human rights, and in 'rights-based discourses', which some in the churches have been critical of.

* 2012 theme: 'My Voice Counts': http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/

* The Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be read here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/UDHRIndex.aspx

* More on human rights from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/humanrights

* 'Contrasting church attitudes on human rights for all', by Savitri Hensman: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/8492

* 'More than just "rights",' by Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/8823

* Human Rights Day wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Day

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