HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2012 -make your voice heard…

Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.

This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.

These human rights — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.


Make your voice count!

Share your thoughts about the right to participate in public life and political decision-making, using #VoiceCount.

Previous Human Rights Day themes

Human Rights Day 2011: Celebrate Human Rights

Human Rights Day 2010: Human rights defenders who act to end discrimination

Human Rights Day 2009: Special focus on discrimination

Human Rights Day 2007-2008: UDHR 60th Anniversary

Human Rights Day 2006: Fighting Poverty: A Matter of Obligation, Not Charity

Human Rights Day 2005: Torture and the Global Efforts to Combat it

Human Rights Day 2004: Human Rights Education


Celebrate Human Rights Day – 10th December 2011

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

Check this site: Celebrate Human Rights Day

The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.

The day is a high point in the calendar of UN headquarters in New York City, United States, and is normally marked by both high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organisations.

Want do some something on Human Rights Day?


Pledge to join thousands of others writing their letters as part of Write for Rights Day on 10 December. You can pledge to write a letter, come along to one of our events or hold your own with friends and family. Whatever you plan to do, we’ll send you a reminder so you don’t forget! Take the Pledge now | Find an event near you

Send a message of solidarity

Sending a card with a simple, personal greeting is a powerful way to show support for someone facing human rights abuse.

Every card matters. For prisoners of conscience, for families whose relatives have disappeared, for people in danger for defending human rights, the cards bring comfort and hope; they offer encouragement and support, and raise spirits. But they also show the authorities – prison officers and politicians – that the world is watching. Find out more and send a card.

If you are organising a letter writing event at school, with some friends or as part of a Local Group we have made all of this year’s case sheets, address labels, appeal template letters and translated messages available to download. Download resources

INEE have added their weight to Human Rights Day

Celebrating the Right to Education

INEE is grounded in the fundamental principle that education is a human right. Education promotes individual freedom and empowerment and is essential for the exercise of other human rights. To mark International Human Rights Day, we want to lift up Articles in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provide that grounding.

Human rights do not cease during disaster or conflict; slavery and servitude are unacceptable in non-emergency and in emergency contexts alike. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion do not stop when a flood or earthquake occurs, nor does the right to a nationality or peaceful assembly. It is the same for education-or at least, it should be.  Millions of children and youth are, today, being denied their human right to education because they live in a conflict zone, or their community has been impacted by a natural disaster. This lack of education is unacceptable. Beyond being recognized as a fundamental human right, education must be protected and supported with strong legal frameworks, adequate resources and political support.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989

Article 28

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;

(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;

(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;

(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.

3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29

1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

For more information on the right to education and on UNESCO’s work in this area see UNESCO and Education: Everyone has the Right to Education, UNESCO, 2011.

HREA would also like to celebrate HRD 2011

Human Rights Day 2011 is even memorable for those involved in human rights education. The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training on this day. This landmark document recognises the right of every one of the planet’s seven billion people to have access to human rights education, a lifelong process involving all ages, all parts of society, and every kind of education, formal and informal. The Declaration specifies not simply what one should learn about human rights, but also how (“through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners”) and also why (“for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others”). The adoption of this new Declaration also offers educators and policy makers an occasion to reassess state and national policies and priorities in the light of international standards.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – 2010 -Speak up – stop discrimination!

The theme for 10 December 2010 is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination.

It continues the theme of 2009 which was also about discrimination.

The Human Rights Defenders video has been produced specifically to illustrate and support this year’s Human Rights Day focus.  With its powerful and moving testimonies, it documents the experiences and motivations of a number of human rights defenders from different countries, all working to overcome discrimination of various kinds.

Although there are many special people who risk their lives to end discrimination, many people working in education ,particularly teachers, can provide the opportunities to explore discrimination within their classrooms and community, and to lay the foundations for challenging and overcoming discrimination.

Human rights defender from Gaza advocates for women

“Women are being discriminated against because of deeply embedded cultural biases still prevalent in Palestinian society, which are then reinforced by the government, as well as the community,” according to Zeinab-Al-Ghonaimy, a human rights defender and lawyer from Gaza.

Human rights defender from Gaza advocates for women’s rights © OHCHRMs. Al-Ghonaimy says that she was motivated to become a human rights defender by growing up female in Palestinian society, since she often witnessed women suffering discrimination. In 2006 she was an independent candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council. Following this she committed herself to representing women in the courts. Now, as the director of the Center for Women’s Legal Research and Counseling, Al-Ghonaimy defends women’s rights in the Gaza Strip.

She considers her most important success as a human rights defender to be curtailing forced dress codes for women lawyers in the courtroom. Yet she has also helped widows maintain custody of children and contributed to the creation of a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

“People are discriminated against for so many reasons,” Ms. Al-Ghonaimy affirms, “being a female, having a disability or having different political views. I encourage men and women to become part of a network of human right defenders, to raise awareness and fight against all forms of discrimination. The more people involved the better. A single hand cannot clap.”

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has had an office in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1996.  In Palestine, OHCHR places emphasis on working in partnership with civil society to protect human rights.

Some useful links:

Discrimination against women

Racial discrimination

Discrimination against indigenous peoples

Discrimination against migrants

Discrimination against minorities

Discrimination against people with disabilities

Religious discrimination


In honor of World Human Rights Day, INEE has collaborated with Peter Hyll-Larsen and the Right to Education Project (housed by ActionAid International, in partnership with the Global Campaign for Education and Amnesty International) to develop INEE web pages on the following topics: 



WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY -Non-discrimination – December 10th 2009

Do we agree on ‘DAYS’ ? One answer ,of course, is  to say if it  is that important, every day should be human rights day. And so it should. As human rights are so important for everyone,rich,poor,old,young,white,black…then everyone has a stake on whether it is important or not.

Anyway at least the day raises a little more  awareness leading to  action for the following year.

As usual INEE provides some good resources for educators around the globe and here is a sample. Go their website for more

Peter Hyll-Larsen from the Right to Education Project housed by ActionAid and the INEE Minimum Standards Update Focal Point for Rights as a cross cutting issue, has written a blog post to mark this thematic focus of World Human Rights Day –  Non-discrimination in education in emergencies: the fundamental challenge.

TOOL: Education in Emergencies – Including Everyone: INEE’s Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education

This is a quick reference guide to help practitioners make sure that education in emergencies is accessible and inclusive for everyone, particularly those who have been traditionally excluded from education. Addressing the immediate educational needs of a diverse range of learners during emergencies is often seen as challenging, especially during the acute phase. Questions about what inclusive education looks like in practice, and how it translates into emergency settings, are common. There is often a misunderstanding that greater stability is needed before efforts to reach excluded groups can move forward. However, there are actions that everyone involved in an emergency education response can take, from the start, to include more people in learning. This guide looks at how to make education in emergencies more accessible for everyone, particularly those often excluded from education.

The Pocket Guide is for anyone working to provide, manage or support education services in emergencies, and offers practical actions that stakeholders in education in an emergency can take to improve inclusion. The booklet provides three types of information:

  1. Advice on practical ways to make each stage of an emergency response moreinclusive
  2. Ideas for addressing resistance or lack of awareness of inclusive approaches among other stakeholders
  3. A selection of key resources and materials that offer more detailed ideas on making emergency education responses more inclusive of marginalized groups

Click here to download Education in Emergencies: Including Everyone, the INEE pocket guide to inclusive education.

You can also order hard copies of the Pocket Guide in English here.

You can pre-order French, Arabic and Spanish copies by emailing

WEBPAGE: The Right to Education Resource Webpage on Education and Discrimination

A collection of Human Rights documents on education and discrimination, including highlights from relevant international conventions and General Comments from the Council on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Click here.

TRAINING MANUAL and TOOLKIT: Non-Discrimination in Emergencies

(Save the Children)

This training manual and toolkit builds on the experiences of Save the Children’s work in emergencies across the world and is applicable to man-made or natural emergencies. It draws on the experiences gained in the 2004 tsunami response and this is reflected in many of the examples used. The publication aims to provide easy-to-use training materials and tools for highlighting discrimination with partners, communities and children in all emergency contexts. The manual has three functions:

  • a manual for trainers who may be new to work on non-discrimination in emergencies, offering tips on designing training for diverse audiences;
  • to provide exercises to raise awareness and increase knowledge about discrimination in emergencies;
  • a toolkit of easy-to-use checklists and handouts for reference

To access this training manual and toolkit, please click here.

THEMATIC GUIDE: INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit Thematic Guide on Human Rights

(Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies)

This Thematic Guide draws together the most practical and concrete tools and resources relating to Human and Child Rights to help education practitioners and policymakers meet the INEE Minimum Standards. Click here to download this collation.

RESEARCH: Education in Emergencies in South Asia – Reducing the Risks Facing Vulnerable Children

(Centre for International Education and research, University of Birmingham and UNICEF ROSA)

This research study documents the range of vulnerabilities in the South Asia and some of the programming strategies to address these groups. There are also 8 country studies. The underlying principle of the research is that of non-exclusion, but also then enhancing capability for the future. The premise is that by creating and building on ‘good’ schools or learning spaces, founded on the rights of the child, the vulnerable will be more likely to have their concerns addressed.

For access to the complete study, please click here.

TRAINING MATERIALS: Making a Difference -Promoting Diversity and Tackling Discrimination

(Save the Children)

These materials have been prepared for Save the Children UK to help programme staff analyse how discrimination impacts on the lives of children, in order to plan effective programming responses. We hope the materials will be used widely by colleagues in organisations wishing to explore issues of diversity and discrimination.

The workshop activities are divided into four categories:

  • Awareness: for use with participants who have a limited awareness of diversity and discrimination issues; or who have a detailed knowledge of one issue of difference, but no experience of integrating other issues of difference into their work.
  • Assessment and analysis: for participants who already have an initial awareness of diversity and discrimination issues, but who lack, confidence or ideas for how to get started in applying the theory to practical planning, implementation and review. Some of these activities can also be adapted for use with partners and stakeholders as part of baseline research in planning and review processes, not just as staff training activities.
  • Action: provides frameworks to help participants implement actions to promote diversity and non-discrimination.
  • Gathering and verifying information: provides ideas for different ways of collecting and checking the information that participants will draw on when analyzing the current situation and developing plans for intervention.

To download these training materials, click here.

Human Rights Day – Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination

Human Rights Day 2009 focuses on ending discrimination, under the theme Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination.

“Discrimination lies at the root of many of the world’s most pressinghuman rights problems. No country is immune from this scourge. Eliminating discrimination is a duty of the highest order,” said Navi Pillay, U. N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. ““Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all,” she said.

The High Commissioner encouraged people everywhere to join hands in celebration of Human Rights Day to speak out and act to advocate non-discrimination and raise awareness in their local communities.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted December 10, 1948 by the international community, has served as a beacon of hope. The Declaration has been translated into more than 360 languages. It holds the Guinness World Record for most translated document in the world.

“The extraordinary vision and determination of the drafters produced a document that for the first time set out universal human rights for all people in an individual context,” U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

Many countries have incorporated provisions of the Declaration into their Constitutions and laws. The principles of the Declarationform the basis of numerous actions taken by the nations of the world.

Join hands to end discrimination

All human rights work can be viewed through the non-discrimination lens. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

These stories describe its impact on peoples’ lives and the work everyone can support to end discrimination.

Quality Education for Indigenous Peoples

The enjoyment of the right to education is not fully realized for most indigenous peoples. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says that without access to quality education indigenous communities will not be able to fully enjoy their rights. The Expert Mechanism is a group of five independent specialists who provide expertise on the rights of indigenous peoples to the Human Rights Council.

In their report to the Council on the right of indigenous peoples to education the experts say, “Deprivation of access to quality education is a major factor contributing to social marginalization, poverty and dispossession of indigenous peoples”.

The report makes the case that designing education programs for indigenous communities must take into account many factors that acknowledge the special needs of these communities. Indigenous students cannot be forced into mainstream education systems which do not integrate indigenous culture, it says.
An approach using a single model is inappropriate because of the diversity of indigenous peoples.

Promoting “indigenous perspectives, innovations and practices in an environment that replicates traditional ways of learning” is another interest of the Expert Mechanism. This includes having mother-tongue based bilingual and multilingual education at the primary as well as at higher levels. Indigenous languages should be integrated into the teaching programs. The report proposes that community members be trained as language teachers and the development of indigenous literacy material.

The report identifies gender issues as a common impediment to education for both boys and girls in indigenous communities. In fact, girls are regularly prevented from attending school. The report found that “families often prefer girls to remain at home to perform domestic chores and care for children and siblings”. When put together with other discrimination issues, this has serious social consequences for the indigenous communities.

The Expert Mechanism says that indigenous peoples have the “right to educational autonomy” including “the right to decide their own educational priorities […] as well as the right to establish and control their own educational systems and institutions, if they so choose”.

The report recommends too that human rights education be included in schools to encourage cooperation between the different cultures. The Expert Mechanism advises that “learning about human rights is the first step towards respecting, promoting and defending the rights of all individuals and peoples.” For this to happen, States must ensure funding for appropriate teaching materials and the recruitment of indigenous teachers. Education is identified by the report as “one of the best long-term financial investments that States can make.” This year on December 10, celebrate Human Rights Day by joining together to celebrate diversity and end discrimination.

22 October 2009

A story of modern slavery

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, Gulnara Shahinian, in her latest report to the Human Rights Council, has called for comprehensive global action to eliminate the practice of bonded labour which she describes as a form of slavery. Quoting data from the International Labour Organisation, the Special Rapporteur says at a minimum, more than 12 million people are living as forced labourers. The causes are many – poverty, demand for cheap labour, unemployment, national or global crises.

“Time and realities may have changed,” Shahinian says, “but the core essence of slavery persists in modern economies. In its modern forms, we find forced labour in agriculture, domestic servitude, the garment industry, the construction industry and prostitution and in the supply chains of mainstream companies.”

Bonded labour occurs when a person offers their services in exchange for the repayment of a debt and, as part of the arrangement, loses control over work conditions and the length of the agreement. Usually there are no safeguards attached to the agreement that would normally be found with a regular loan such as reasonable conditions of repayment or agreed interest rates. Often the employer uses the debt to force individuals to work in exploitative conditions: bonded labourers commonly work very long hours, for very low wages and with no days off.

Technically, bonded labourers can end their state of servitude once the debt is repaid but as the report points out, this seldom happens. Debtors are often illiterate, lack basic maths skills and are easy prey for money lenders.

In building a profile of this form of forced labour the Special Rapporteur has found poverty first and foremost plays a crucial role: the vast majority of bonded labourers are chronically poor. Consequently, they often have little or no education, they are mostly from socially excluded groups, including indigenous people, minorities and migrants and they are more vulnerable because in many cases they have limited access to land where they might otherwise earn a living.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that in the eyes of many, human trafficking and bonded labour are one and the same. Shahinian says seeing forced labour only through the prism of trafficking means that the magnitude of the problem is seriously underestimated. “Forced labour which may occur in the informal sector, in supply chains and export processing zones, within indigenous or minority populations and in rural areas – the overwhelming majority – is not addressed,” she says.

International efforts to sign, ratify, enforce and monitor the slavery conventions “pale in comparison” to those for trafficking, she says. Given the gravity of the human rights violations associated with bonded labour and the millions of people affected by such practices in every part of the world, it is important, the Special Rapporteur says that slavery be given its due prominence and attention.

Shahinian acknowledges that many countries have ratified the slavery conventions and the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization. However, where laws on forced labour exist, their enforcement is limited and Shahinian says there are very few policies and programmes specifically directed at bonded labour. “Comprehensive action to eliminate this phenomenon,” she says, “requires strong political will and the coordinated actions of many Governments to enforce international law and protect the rights of all.”

4 November, 2009

Peter Gabriel and the HUB

It was an ordinary day of skateboarding dog videos on YouTube last November when a harrowing clip appeared. The grainy shots from Egypt showed police officers beating and sodomizing a man with a nightstick. The clip had been distributed by Egyptian bloggers Wael Abbas and Hossam el-Hamalawy as a call to action against police brutality.

There was one problem. YouTube has strict guidelines against graphic sexual or violent material, and suspended the bloggers’ account. Eventually the story got picked up by other bloggers and the mainstream media, and sparked international outrage that led to the prosecution of the offending officers and the reactivation of Abbas and el-Hamalawy’s YouTube account.

But with thousands of undocumented abuses playing out around the world every day, the episode highlighted the potential for an online-video network devoted to human rights. Filling that void is the Hub (, a video-sharing Web site launched by ex-rock star Peter Gabriel to empower people to document and publicize unseen atrocities. Now in beta, the Hub allows anyone around the world to submit clips to a central site where its target audience of activists can connect and take action. “It’s a YouTube for human rights,” Gabriel says. And it shows how the dynamics of social networking can be applied in powerful new ways.

The Hub is an offshoot of Witness, the Brooklyn-based human-rights nonprofit that Gabriel started in 1992 after learning the extent of abuses worldwide while headlining a concert tour sponsored by Amnesty International. “What I found extraordinary was that people could suffer in this way and have their stories completely buried,” he says. “But it seemed like whenever there was video evidence, it was very hard to deny and bury and forget.”

For the past 16 years, Witness has provided video cameras to carefully selected activists and community leaders in more than 100 countries. The group has amassed one of the largest existing collections of human-rights-abuse footage and has shown its videos to policy makers and human-rights groups around the world. There have been plenty of success stories as a result, from the arrest of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for war crimes in the Congo to raising money for land-mine victims in Senegal. Just last year, “Crying Sun,” a Witness video on the impact of war on the community of the North Caucasus mountains, was presented to Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, whose private militia had been widely criticized by human-rights organizations. Afterward, Kadyrov funded the rebuilding of homes, a school, a medical center, and other infrastructure.

Some links

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Alliances for Africa

Amnesty International

Arab Organization for Human Rights

Asian Human Rights Commission

Carter Center

Centre for Human Rights
(University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
(Washington College of Law, American University)

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Derechos Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

Human and Constitutional Rights (Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School )

Human Rights Internet

Human Rights Library
(University of Minnesota)

Human Rights Watch

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

International Committee of the Red Cross

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues

International Institute of Human Rights

Rights International

Universal Rights Network

Women’s Human Rights