On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first ever global assertion that “all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.” The world celebrates annual Human Rights Day on December 10th each year. This December, ADL honors the UDHR’s 65th anniversary by continuing to fight for the rights enshrined in that momentous declaration and by teaching new generations of children to learn about the principles it reflects.
Human Rights Day has particular meaning for ADL because anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews was the touchstone for the creation of some of the foundational human rights instruments in the aftermath of the Holocaust. ADL is committed to educating youth about the lessons of the Holocaust and how bigotry and exclusion can lead down a slippery slope toward unspeakable atrocities, and our web site features a short list of books for children on the UDHR and how it relates to the rights of children globally.
ADL is engaging activists in protecting the rights championed by this historic document whether it is by protecting the right of all children to an education, freedom of religion and belief for all, or freedom to associate and to seek asylum from persecution. This month, our priority human rights issues have put the spotlight on:
- Fighting to end discrimination in the workplace by urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA);
- Supporting Senate ratification of the Convention on Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which would ensure that people living with disabilities enjoy equal opportunity and full participation in communities across the world; and
- Honoring our history as a nation of immigrants by urging the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform which would provide a realistic path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Today, through our activism and raising awareness, we honor the spirit of the moving words of, one of the UDHR’s authors, Eleanor Roosevelt, who asked:
Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
– Eleanor Roosevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)