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International Human Rights Day

December 10

International Human Rights Day is celebrated every December 10 as a way to promote, defend, and remember the basic human rights every person in every country has as a result of being born into this world. The basic document that outlines these rights is known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the United Nations.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights came about as a result of the atrocities of World War II. As the United Nations came into being its charter gave human rights a new international legal status, and the need to codify human rights as a means to prevent similar atrocities took shape. It created a Commission on Human Rights, which spent three years drafting the declaration with the help of such members as Eleanor Roosevelt, John P. Humphrey, Charles Malik and Rene Cassin. The declaration was adopted without dissent on December 10, 1948, and has grown in stature and respect over the years since its adoption as it continues to assert the human dignity and worth of every human being on the planet.

Since its adoption countries around the world have celebrated the anniversary, but it has only been since the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1998 that the holiday has gained in popularity.

Eleanor Roosevelt once asserted that the fate of human rights lies in the hands of everyone in every community. Freethinkers know the importance of this statement. It can often be a challenge for many of them to be given the same rights and opportunities as others in their own communities, much less in the world. They, of all people, understand the importance of keeping human rights the center of focus and attention in the world at large. Celebrating International Human Rights Day is a way to show how everyone, religious or not, is connected in ways that run deeper than the nature of belief.

International Human Rights Day PRESS KIT

Ways to Celebrate:

A UDHR in Every Pocket:

Make one-page copies of the UDHR available in every public place in your community (post offices, libraries, polling places, schools). Reproduce the Declaration using various formats (bookmarks, brochures, etc.)

A Moment for the UDHR:

On 10 December at 12 noon, let your local group unite in a common symbolic action (lighting of candles, a moment of silence, ringing of bells or sirens, raising of flag, half-an-hour human rights program at meeting, concert).

Human Rights Community:

Encourage your community(a village, a school, a university, a workplace, a senior citizens' center, a freethought group) to declare itself to be a "human rights community". As such they will promote the observance of and respect for human rights and evaluate how their community lives up to the standards set out in the UDHR.

Human Rights Spaces:

Dedicate a "human rights space" for UDHR 50th activities in your village, town, or city neighborhood (a meeting hall, a gallery, a display area or bulletin board at the market, a public garden). Individuals or community groups can use it in a variety of ways to express/illustrate/discuss how they experience human rights in their professional, cultural, or personal lives.

Public Readings:

Organize public readings of the UDHR on December 10.


Fund-raise for national/international human rights funds (Amnesty International, United Nations) or for your own program that works to promote and educate your community about the human rights movement.

Human Rights Day E-Cards: