The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 75
Amy Webb (2023-24 Iowa UNA College Ambassador from Luther College)
Regardless of one's national or ethnic origin, color, religion, nationality, sex, lanugage, or any other status, human rights are inherent to everyone. However, in a world that is becoming increasingly complex with escalating tension between great powers, crises in key regions, and the increased conflicts beween extremist forces, human rights are under assault around the world. According to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), "All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights."
The United Nations was founded in 1945 as a way to prevent war and advance human rights. The UN Charter, an international treaty that states are bound to, is the UN's founding document. In 1948, the UDHR established human rights as part of international law, and the institution has since strived to protect and promote human rights. It declares that human rights are universal and inalienable, meaning that these human rights are inherent to all of us. Since its founding, the UN has codified the major principles of maintaining peaceful international relations, preventing and responding to conflicts, and opposing human rights violations.
December 10, 2023 will mark the 75th anniversary of the UDHR. Each year, this anniversary is commemorated as Human Rights Day. The UDHR is made up of a Preamble and 30 articles
that establish and promote rights, dignity, and freedom for all human beings. This was the first legal document establishing that rights are inherent and must be protected. Accordingly, this milestone document was drafted by representatives from a wide scope of cultural and legal backgrounds from around the world. The UDHR provides the building blocks for subsequent human rights conventions, treaties, and institutions.
According to the United Nations Foundation their mission is to support the UN's work to help some of the most vulnerable people on earth. As the Foundation states, they strive to support UN human rights and humanitarian initiatives by advocating for U.S. support for UN peacekeeping missions, raising awareness for the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund, and upholding human rights, including women's reproductive rights and LGBTI rights.
A key tool for promoting human rights in conflict zones, UN peacekeeping helps countries torn by violence by providing security and peacebuilding support to help countries resolve upheavals peacefully. UN peacekeeping runs on three principles: consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate. While success is never guaranteed, UN peacekeeping has proven to be successful over the course of the past 60-plus years of its existence and has even won the Nobel Peace Prize.
While we are all entitled to human rights, our actions can help change the world to ensure taht others have their human rights. We are the change that the world needs. Spread the word on the importance of human rights through social media platforms with the hashtag #StandUp4HumanRights to show your support.
You can also take the human rights pledge to show your commitment to defend human rights:
I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you.
When anyone's human rights are denied, everyone's human rights are undermined, so I will STAND UP.
I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.
It is vitally important to not let human rights violations go unheard. Stop the spread of injustice throughout the world by advocating and getting your voice heard.