As the world mourns the passing Nelson Mandela, we also commemorate the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writes Renée Brack.
December 10 is Human Rights Day. It's arguably the most important day of the year for human beings, yet we do not celebrate it with ribbons, gifts and cards.
It encompasses men, women and children of all denominations, creeds, colours and nations. So that makes it the most globally important event in the annual calendar.
It outranks Christmas, Chinese new Year, Ramadan, the Holi Fesitval Of Colours, RUOK Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, St Patrick’s Day – even World Mosquito Day.
This is because it acknowledges everyone’s basic rights with dignity and legal recourse.
The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights was the first major achievement of the new United Nations on December 10, 1948.
On December 10 the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded as well as the five-yearly United Nations Prize in The Field Of Human Rights.
The day is traditionally marked by high-level political events and conferences.
It's a fitting coincidence that this year Decemeber 10 will also mark the international memorial service for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
And is it ironic or just tragic that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, infamous for gross human rights violations who died of a heart attack aged 91 on December 10, 2006 was never brought to justice?
Human Rights abuses have occurred throughout history but after two world wars in the 20th century and the full horror of industrialized death in the concentration camps of Europe was revealed, it was clear that nations needed to create something that promoted peace through the recognition of an individual’s unassailable rights.
There is a 15-year-old Portuguese television commercial getting around the Internet right now that was made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Human Rights. It explores racism on a plane, putting an effective twist on the Rosa Parks incident on a US bus that fuelled the war against racism in 1955.
The original Universal Declaration Of Human Rights is a beautiful document to read and has evolved with the times. Since 1993, it more specifically includes victims of torture, persons with disabilities and indigenous people. Women’s and children’s rights are now regarded as fundamental. The rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people are also now on the international agenda. And there’s agreement that all human rights violations should not go unpunished.
There’s also a growing consensus that business enterprises need to take more responsibility for human rights issues.
All these great achievements are reason enough to celebrate Human Rights Day because if one person anywhere in the world can have their rights violated, so can any one of us. We have a duty of care to our fellow human beings.
Here are some wonderful ways we can mark the occasion:
You can give Human Rights Day a profile in your neighbourhood using specially created designs of logos for posters, wallpaper, stickers and t-shirts.
You can join Write For Rights and use your voice to help those who cannot speak up for themselves.
You can donate your skills or money to Amnesty International.
It’s not about charity. It’s about dignity.
What will you do to celebrate Human Rights Day?
Renée Brack is a journalist, media producer and adventurer.