Do you know what December 10th marks? Human Rights Day! It’s a day that not only marks the anniversary of the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also raises the awareness of human rights issues around the globe. Human Rights Day 2015 marks the 67th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Few countries have done more for international human rights than Norway. To mark the day, we’re going to highlight the growth of human rights and Norway’s central role in making them a global priority.
Before World War II had even ended, the allies began planning for a post-war future. Devastated by years of constant conflict, they envisioned a world that combated war with diplomacy. The negotiations would eventually lead to the creation of the United Nations. After the war, the UN began the first steps to develop what the organization’s mission would be. The first priority for the delegates was the creation of a document that laid out the rights that were inherent to all humans. This document would be called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s difficult to overstate how important this document has been to global politics. The Declaration, and its subsequent conventions, have served as the basis for international law and inspired a new generation to promote justice and equality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been called the most important document of the twentieth century.
As a member of the first United Nations General Assembly, Norway was amongst the earliest supporters of the Declaration. Although Norway was not involved in the drafting process of the document, it did play a crucial role in rallying support for its passage when the Declaration went to a vote in 1948.
Since 1948, Norway has been a major promoter of human rights around the world within the United Nations and outside it. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry recently announced it would be increasing funding to the UN to aid its human rights work by more than 90 million Kroner (more than $1 million). On its own, the Norwegian government funds several human rights projects across the globe, including the Norwegian Human Rights Fund, a collaboration of several human rights organizations in Norway that receive private and public funding.
Norwegian organizations are spread across the world addressing human rights challenges. Several Norwegian organizations are also involved in work around the world, including election monitoring in Haiti, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey. Organizations are also working on the plight of political prisoners in several areas of the globe, including Russia and Azerbaijan. Still more Norwegian human rights workers are addressing the challenges associated with women’s and LGBT rights around the world. It’s safe to say that Norwegians have played a crucial role of championing the universality of human rights.
It’s easy to feel like a small fish in a giant ocean when thinking about big topics like global human rights, but there is enough ways for everyone to help. Here are three simple ways you can do on Human Rights Day 2015.
- Write a letter to your school paper. If human rights are an issue you feel passionately about, take a few minutes to write a letter to the editor of your school paper. It may not seem like it, but even a quick letter may inspire someone else to learn more or take action.
- Start a conversation. There are a lot of things happening in the world and it can be a challenge to keep up on everything. By starting a conversation in class or with your friends about human rights, you’re helping spread awareness at a real grassroots level. Remember, every effort to change the world began with a conversation.
- Keep up with a human rights organization. There are literally hundreds of human rights organizations around the world tackling an enormous number of issues. Pledge to follow at least one of these organizations to celebrate Human Rights Day. Even if you can’t donate money, they’ll likely have some way for you to lend a hand.