Human Rights Day 2008

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1948-2008

It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Human Rights Day 2007 marked the start of a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Video of the Commemoration of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2007, Room XVII
at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

View photos with captions on new page

This theme for 2008, “Dignity and justice for all of us,” reinforces the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a commitment to universal dignity and justice. It is not a luxury or a wish-list.  The UDHR and its core values, inherent human dignity, non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always.  The Declaration is universal, enduring and vibrant, and it concerns us all.

Since its adoption in 1948, the Declaration has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is difficult to imagine today just what a fundamental shift the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented when it was adopted sixty years ago.  In a post-war world scarred by the Holocaust, divided by colonialism and wracked by inequality, a charter setting out the first global and solemn commitment to the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings, regardless of colour, creed or origin, was a bold and daring undertaking.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour

An essential element in the protection of human rights is a widespread knowledge and understanding among people of what their rights are and how they can be defended. The Declaration is now available in over 360 languages and is the most translated document in the world – a testament to its universal nature and reach.

Sixty years on, we pay tribute to the extraordinary vision of the Declaration’s original drafters and to the many human rights defenders around the world who have struggled to make their vision a reality.

The Declaration belongs to each and every one of us – read it, learn it, promote it and claim it as your own.