Honoring Human Rights (in December and always)
December is National and International Human Rights Month, and December 10 was International Human Rights Day. One of the first acts of the newly established United Nations, in 1948, was the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (If you have not yet read this declaration, it is well worth the time reflecting on the 30 short yet inspiring Articles. There is even an illustrated version suitable for children!) The declaration has been translated into 530 languages (so far) and has had a broad influence on national constitutions, treaties, and international norms. The theme of Human Rights Day this year is “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and focuses on a human rights-based approach to development. For more information, see the United Nations website on Human Rights Day.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights serves as a standard as well as an inspiration. The U.S. State Department asserts that a central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of rights as declared in the Declaration. Yet organizations such as Human Rights Watch have documented how the U.S. has not always lived up to the standards of the Declaration.