Tuesday, March 28News For London

70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Monday, December 10 marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and with it a chance to celebrate the advancements made because of the landmark document. Many took to social media on Monday, sharing photos, videos and threads reflecting on how far we’ve come in the area of human rights, as well as the ways in people’s rights are still violated today.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, originally published 70 years ago in 1948. Source: United Nations

The History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The document was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, in the aftermath of both world wars. The Universal Declaration marked the first time that nations came together and agreed on a comprehensive set of absolute human rights. The declaration encompassed rights which the diverse council who drafted it believed each person is entitled to “regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

According to the United Nations, the Universal Declaration is the most translated document in the world and is available in more than 500 languages.

In a statement released December 5, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, said that the Declaration that was once an “aspirational treatise” is now a firm set of standards that has “permeated virtually every area of international law.”

Bachelet said: “The Declaration inspired liberation movements and led to better access to justice, social protections, economic opportunities and political participation.”


While the Declaration is celebrated every December 10, the theme this year was  #StandUp4HumanRights. This year’s theme encourages citizens everywhere to make a difference and stand up for those who are disenfranchised or whose rights are violated.

According to UN news, the document is as relevant today as it when it created 70 years ago. The guidelines that applied to human rights grappling with the effects of World War II, still apply to issues such as environmental damage and artificial intelligence.

Bachelet said the she remains convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in the Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history, as well as one of the most successful.

Another statement published by the UN Human Rights Council on December 7, said that: “protection provided by the international human rights system has increased including by addressing new and emerging human rights issues and demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to people’s needs and expectations.”

While major strides have been made by way of basic rights for all peoples, many on social media pointed out that we still have a long way to go. The UN reported that increasing nationalism and xenophobia are “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted with the hashtag, saying: “Human rights do not just guarantee freedom from persecution, violence & oppression. They also provide a route to a better way of life.”

Bachelet said: “We need more respect. Greater justice. We need to uphold human equality and dignity.”