The international community observes Human Rights Day every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, 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”.
The theme for Human Rights Day 2010 is “Human rights defenders who act to end discrimination”. Acting alone or in groups within their communities, every day human rights defenders work to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims. While some human rights defenders are internationally renowned, many remain anonymous and undertake their work often at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon recognising the special role of human rights defenders worldwide said: “This Human Rights Day is an occasion to salute the courage and achievements of human rights defenders everywhere – and to pledge to do more to safeguard their work.” He further added, “On this Human Rights Day, let us be inspired by those seeking to make our world more just. And let us remember that everyone - no matter their background, training or education - can be a human rights champion. So let us use that power. Let us each be a human rights defender.”
Human Rights Day 2010 will highlight and promote the achievements of human rights defenders and will emphasise the primary responsibility governments have to enable and protect their role. The Day is also intended to inspire a new generation of defenders to speak up and take action to end discrimination in all of its forms whenever and wherever it is manifested.
Global March salutes the courage of those around the world who strive to end discrimination, which is a contributing factor to the incidence of child labour. “Research and experience have shown that discrimination is a significant contributing factor in pushing children, especially girls and minority groups, into situations of child labour and many of our members and partners work hard to combat discrimination and protect these children,” said Global March Chairperson Kailash Satyarthi. “We all witness discrimination in our daily lives in various forms and it is vital that we have the courage to speak up and take a strong stand to stop discrimination. We fully support the theme of Human Rights Day 2010.”
Speaking from personal experience, he said: “I have experienced over the last three decades that those who attacked and even assassinated the activists fighting against child labour, child slavery and trafficking, were never brought to justice. The human rights defenders in the face of grave personal, professional and organisational threats continue to rage against the violations, while the state turns a blind eye. This calls for a strong and united voice of the human rights defenders worldwide and fixing the accountability of the concerned authorities.”
The relevance of the Day’s theme was also brought home to the International Secretariat of Global March and its Indian partner Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s when their offices in New Delhi were recently broken into and vandalised.
For more information and promotional materials on Human Rights Day, visit the web site of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) by clicking here