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10th December 2021: all you need to know about the World Human Rights Day

Every year we celebrate hundreds of World days on the most varied topics to raise awareness among young people and adults and to celebrate the progress achieved. The proposed topics are in line with the United Nations' fields of action and these days are an opportunity to learn and get involved in finding concrete solutions to current problems. But when was the World Human Rights Day born? Let’s find out together!

What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As a result of World War II and the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler, the need for an effective system of protection of human rights emerges more strongly among States. One of the first steps through the realisation of such a system is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which serves as the basis for the drafting of subsequent international human rights standards. It is a text of only 30 articles adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948, the aim of which is to protect the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of human beings. Within it, norms are enshrined that are universally held to be just and must be reached by all peoples and all nations, as the only way to peace and freedom.

On 10th December 1950, the World Human Rights Day was announced as the anniversary of the adoption of the Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Therefore, on 10th December, a space has been dedicated to human rights to promote respect, tolerance and equality regardless of sex, religion or political orientation.

How World Human Rights Day is celebrated

Every year, the World Human Rights Day focuses on a specific theme and, throughout the day, high-level conferences, exhibitions and cultural events are held all over the world. The aim is to promote the human rights to which every citizen must aspire and fight. On such occasions, prestigious prizes are also awarded, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the United Nations Human Rights Prize.

In 2020, the theme of World Human Rights Day was the rebirth from the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the importance of placing people and their rights at the centre of this rebirth, all embodied by the slogan "Recover Better- Stand up for Human Rights", was underlined. They wanted to address the issues that the virus has brought to light. One of these was the escalation of the violence against women during the quarantine, who were increasingly victims of abuse within their homes. Because of this, this year it was decided to focus on a similar issue: equality.

2021 Theme: equality

The chosen theme for the 2021 World Human Rights Day is therefore equality. Today more than ever it is essential to raise awareness and educate new generations with the prospect of reducing inequalities, for instance, in the workplace and schools. This goal is in line with the SDG 10 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims at reducing inequalities within and among countries. Great achievements have been made compared to the past decades, but they are not enough. Inequalities persist and disparity in access to healthcare, education and other services are still present.

It's not by change that this theme has been chosen in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has further exacerbated the financial and health crises. The current generation of youththe so-called 'Covid Generation'is likely to end up suffering the effects of the rising inequalities and poverty. Sharing power, opportunities and resources in a fair manner might be a solution, so as to make room for human rights to move forward. It's our job to make everyone able to enjoy its own fundamental freedoms, and celebrating and reasserting the respect for human dignity is vital in this respect. States are trying to promote greater social, economic and political inclusion of all citizens, yet reducing disparities for real implies the adoption of universal policies which pay attention to the poorest and most marginalized countries.

As President of Italy Sergio Mattarella said this morning: "those societies able to offer everyone opportunities to realise one's full potential are more inclusive, free, prosperous and, therefore, more resilient societies. It is a demanding task to build and strengthen those societies, as well as a moral and legal obligation we should bear witness every day."


Alessandra Facchi, Breve storia dei diritti umani. Dai diritti dell’uomo ai diritti delle donne, Il Mulino, 2013.


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