Human Rights Day - Canadian Heritage

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Human Rights Day

In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly proposed that its members declare December 10 to be Human Rights Day. This day marks the anniversary of the unanimous adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly in 1948.

Since its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been regarded as a triumph, as it brought together, under the same banner, countries with political, religious, cultural differences, and even conflicts. Translated into about 250 national and local languages, it has become the best known and most often cited document on human rights.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, the Declaration sets out fundamental rights and freedoms: the right to equality, life, liberty and security of person. It prohibits all forms of discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property, birth, opinion or other status. The Declaration represents an ideal to be attained by all peoples and nations.

Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is over 50 years old, it remains a vital touchstone. It does not legally bind countries, but it has provided inspiration for about 60 international instruments, creating a vast system of legally binding treaties for signatory States. In 1993, the Vienna Conference reaffirmed the central role of the Universal Declaration in protecting human rights and, for the first time, recognized the inalienable right to development.

For further information

Further information may be obtained by consulting the Reports on UN Human Rights Treaties and Other Documents page, which includes the complete text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or by visiting the sites of the United Nations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may also be obtained in paper form, braille or on audiocassette by contacting the Human Rights Program.