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South Africa

The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 60

© UN Photo
Eleanor Roosevelt holds a copy of the Declaration in 1948.

By David Koch

NEW YORK, USA, 10 December 2008 – Six decades ago the United Nations brought the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to life. Today, the rights enshrined in the Declaration are considered, simply, universal values. In 1948, however, the idea of universal rights for all was nothing short of revolutionary.

The Declaration was the world's first expression of the inalienable rights shared by all, regardless of colour or creed, gender or age. It established a common set of standards for human achievement for all people: freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect and shared responsibility.

Many of UNICEF's key principles derive directly from the Universal Declaration:

  • Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance
  • All children are entitled to the same social protection
  • Children have the right to a free, basic education
  • Everyone has the right to participate in community life
© UNICEF Video
Archbishop Desmond Tutu appears in a new PSA demanding rights be realized for all.

A timeless document
The Declaration has withstood the test of time and remains the foundation of international human rights law, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. As the Declaration turns 60, it's important to emphasize the living document's enduring relevance and universality. Indeed, in an increasingly complex and dangerous world, the Declaration is more relevant than ever.

"On this Human Rights Day, it is my hope that we will all act on our collective responsibility to uphold the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. We can only honour the towering vision of that inspiring document when its principles are fully applied everywhere, for everyone," proclaimed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Today, the Declaration is the most translated document in the world, available in some 360 languages.

Archbishop Tutu calls for rights to be realized

To reinvigorate awareness about the Declaration, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has recorded a public service announcement to support the 'Every Human Has Rights' campaign, a partnership initiative which aims to encourage global conversation about human rights and the values that unite us all.

Human beings around the world can sign a petition of support for human rights and the Declaration by visiting http://www.everyhumanhasrights.org/

Broadcasters can access the 30-second PSA – in HD or SD – via via http://www.thenewsmarket.com/ free of charge.




Watch the new PSA featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in support of the 'Every Human Has Rights' campaign.
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Go behind the scenes in Johannesburg with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
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