Roben X, rapper and activist, greets participants of diverse backgrounds and age.

2019 Observance

Theme: Youth Standing Up for Human Rights

After a year marked by the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which culminated on 20 November, 2019, our plan is to capitalise on the current momentum and spotlight the leadership role of youth in collective movements as a source of inspiration for a better future.

Under our universal call to action "Stand Up for Human rights," we aim to celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights. The campaign, led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is designed to encourage, galvanise, and showcase how youth all over the world stand up for rights and against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination, and climate change, to name a few.

Why Youth?

  • Youth participation is essential to achieve sustainable development for all.
    Participation in public life is a fundamental principle of human rights. Young people are seeking to participate in all decisions that have a direct and indirect impact upon their wellbeing. They need to be heard to inform more effective decision-making and achieve sustainable development for all.
  • Youth can play a crucial role in positive change.
    Young people have always been major drivers of political, economic and social transformation. They are at the forefront of grassroots mobilizations for positive change and bring fresh ideas and solutions for a better world.
  • Empowering youth to better know and claim their rights will generate benefits globally.
    Young people are often marginalized and encounter difficulties in accessing and enjoying their rights because of their age. Upholding their rights and empowering them to better know and claim them will generate benefits globally.
logo: Stand up for human rights

Never too young to change the world

  • Youth participation is essential to achieve sustainable development for all
  • Youth can play a crucial role in positive change
  • Empowering youth to better know and claim their rights will generate benefits globally


  • Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day
  • Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values
  • Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace
  • Whenever and wherever humanity's values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all
  • We need to stand up for our rights and those of others


Secretary-General's Message

This year, on Human Rights Day, we celebrate the role of young people in bringing human rights to life.

Globally, young people are marching, organizing, and speaking out:

For the right to a healthy environment…
For the equal rights of women and girls…
To participate in decision-making…
And to express their opinions freely…

They are marching for their right to a future of peace, justice and equal opportunities.

Every single person is entitled to all rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural. Regardless of where they live. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, social origin, gender, sexual orientation, political or other opinion, disability or income, or any other status.

On this International Day, I call on everyone to support and protect young people who are standing up for human rights.

António Guterres

António Guterres


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' Message

Raising our voices is essential to the creation of a future of peace, justice and sustainable development. And this has been a year of tremendous activism – notably by young people.

In every region, people are working for hope.

From the accelerating climate crisis to the fight against inequality and repressive institutions.

From the right to make informed decisions about our own bodies to the right to participate in defining policies for our countries.

I am inspired by the courage, clarity and principle of the women, men and young people who are rising up peacefully, to create greater freedom and justice.

Their voices are the living expression of human rights – a movement that is fundamentally about building dignity and equality for everyone.

Policy-makers everywhere need to listen to these calls. And in response, they need to shape more effective, more principled policies.

We have a right to live free from discrimination on any grounds. We have a right to access education, health-care, economic opportunities and a decent standard of living.

This is about our future, our livelihoods, our freedoms, our security and our environment.

We need to mobilise across the world–peacefully and powerfully – to advance a world of rights, dignity and choice for everyone.

With renewed determination, we all need to stand up for human rights.

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet


General Assembly President's Message

For more than seventy years the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language or other status.  

Human Rights are the foundation of peace, development, and justice and are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The theme of the 2019 Human Rights Day is: Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.

The active engagement of youth in all facets of life is central to achieving inclusive and stable societies. 

We have to utilize the idealism of youth and empower them to stand up for equal rights and fair treatment of everyone everywhere.

Human rights are for everyone.

We need to ensure that youth have the right to participate in decision-making and have their voices heard.  

As President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, I have chosen quality education and inclusion among my priorities.

Access to inclusive quality education empowers youth to better know and claim their rights. 

As Malala Yousafzai says:  

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” 

As we end the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence today, I commend the contributions of women human rights defenders worldwide for their dedication to upholding our human rights. 

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande




In Geneva, OHCHR partnered with the Young Activists Summit - Women and Girls Driving Progress - which took place on 10 December in Palais des Nations.

On 9 December, OHCHR launched the 4th Phase of the World Programme on education in partnership with the Slovenian mission.

Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

New York

In New York, as part of the official commemoration of HRD, a live audience took an interactive quiz followed by a panel discussion focusing on youth standing up for human rights.

In addition, the Top 10 finalists' photos of the Photography 4 Humanity Global prize was exhibited.

Remarks by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General


OHCHR field presences and UN Information Centres (UNICs) mobilized around Human Rights Day, organizing activities and joining forces with the UN family.


Take a closer look at some of the events and stories across the world to stand up for human rights.

Campaign Materials

youth participation poster
youth for change poster
animated card advocating against bullying

Bullying: it's Everyone's Problem!

Everyone has the right to be safe and be treated with dignity. Across the world, 1/3 of teens experience bullying, in person or online. Youth activists across the world are standing up when people are harassed or mistreated, fighting to protect the rights of others.

Young people are powerful. Follow their lead and #StandUp4HumanRights.

animated card against climate change

Start a Global Movement!

Think young people can't start a global movement? 16 year old Greta Thunberg led the largest climate protest in history *4 MILLION* people strong. (Spanning 163 countries on all 7 continents!)

Young people are standing up to protect their future. Climate change threatens our basic human rights. Follow the lead of young people!.

animated card for youth participation in government

Represent in Government!

There are estimated 45,000 Members of Parliaments worldwide, but only 2% are under 30 years old. Even though young people are among those most affected by the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world today, they are not adequately represented within their governments.

Youth have the right to participate in decision-making and have their voices heard.

animated card for LGBTI rights

Include LGBTI!

Youth are standing up for equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people everywhere. Close to a third of the world’s countries criminalize same-sex relationships. This leads to widespread discrimination against LGBTI people and threatens their basic rights.

Human rights are for everyone – no matter who you are or whom you love.

Illustration that says: Education is our weapon.
Illustration that says: Saving the planet starts now.
Illustration that says: I'm a girl, what's your superpower?
Illustration that says: Learning today, leading tomorrow.