Since 1950, December 10th has been designated as International Human Rights Day by the United Nations. The date was chosen to honour the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. This Declaration was the first time nations from around the world united and proclaimed with one voice that every human being on the planet is entitled to basic human rights. It was one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations and, coming as it did just three years after the end of World War II, it was a stupendous achievement.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by nine people from around the world and on December 10, 1948, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting.
Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, a member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote about this occasion:
“I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality. In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”
This is the first time in human history that we all officially agreed – at least in theory – that universal human rights exist for everybody, everywhere, all of the time.
“Let there be no mistake, The principle of the Oneness of Mankind – the the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve — is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cooperation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family…” Shoghi Effendi
* Photograph – Earl Redman