Human Rights Day

             Photo courtesy The United Nations

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was born out of the trauma of World War II. Based on France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the 1776
US Declaration of Independence, the 30-point non-binding text was
adopted by 58 UN states.

The principles enshrined in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have shaped modern concepts of
human dignity and served as a template for international rights
conventions that have followed.

It is recognized as the most translated
document in the world. It stipulates that all civil, cultural,
economic, political and social rights are the right of every
individual “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion.”

Article 1 of the text proclaims: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

You can read the entire declaration here at the United Nations website.

60 years later, abuses persist and ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Stephane Hessel acknowledges that fact but goes on to share a message of hope that cites the election of Barack Obama, the end of the Soviet Union and its gulags, and the end of apartheid as colossal symbols of progress:

From The Associated Press:

Ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Stephane Hessel read its preamble
before world officials, artists and rights groups at 8:00 pm (1900
GMT), in a ceremony at the Palais de Chaillot, where it was adopted on
December 10, 1948.

“Still today, it is a text worth reading. It
is perfectly relevant. All the more so because it has not been upheld
— and it is asking us to fight for it,” Hessel, who helped draft the
declaration, told AFP.

say things are getting worse and worse, that the world is a terrible
place, but there has never been so much progress in 60 years,” Hessel
said, citing the election of Barack Obama as the first black US

“We created a united Europe, we got rid of apartheid,
we ended the Soviet Union and its gulags, we set up the International
Criminal Tribunal to try rogue heads of state.”

International, which was marking the anniversary with a rally in Paris,
has urged Obama to put human rights back at the top of Washington’s
agenda and to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay military prison.

More coverage:

Chinese protests

Laura Bush in NYC

Lebanon celebrates

Vatican under fire

Wales remembers

Also on this day, December 10, 1901 the first Nobel Prizes were awarded

Jason Mraz – A Beautiful Mess (Live at the Nobel Peace Prize concert)

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.

Dr. Martin  Luther King Jr.

And on December 10, 1964, Dr. Martin  Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

You can read his acceptance speech here: Martin Luther King’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.

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