Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Day

Every year on December 10, the world celebrates the day when, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] was adopted. The UDHR consists of a preamble and 30 articles that urge to guarantee equal rights and freedoms to which all of us are entitled. Each article is a safety measure that all nations made to protect the weak and individuals from brutal and selfish powers after having experienced the worst war in human history.

Theme for 2022: Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All

Human Rights Day is celebrated according to the annual slogan, and the theme for 2022 is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.” In the preamble, the UDHR highlighted the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Although considerable progress has been made in peace and cooperation by the international community, global issues such as infectious diseases, disputes, inequality, racism, climate change, and economic downturn in recent years have hindered the advancement of human rights toward dignity and equality.

On December 10, 2023, for the 75th anniversary of Human Rights Day, the UN launched a year-long campaign called “Stand Up For Human Rights” to showcase the UDHR by focusing on its legacy, relevance, and activism. The UN aims to increase knowledge of the UDHR to take concrete action to stand up for human rights and to tackle pressing global issues today.

First Step for Everyone: Right to Education

How can we achieve human rights for all people in the slogan of 2022? How can our human rights be respected and achieve peace in society?

The most fundamental answer to this is education. Human rights are not just rights but powerful promises and tools that bring development to the future of our society. Human rights can take effect when people learn about what human rights are and how they can be used.

Education empowers human rights, and it is one of the most powerful tools by which economically and socially marginalized children and adults can lift themselves out of poverty and participate in society. Education helps each individual reach their full potential, decreases social inequalities, and empowers women. It also brings significant economic benefits by increasing the productivity of the country and helps societies to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development. Education is key to achieving all other human rights. That is why Article 26 of the UDHR guarantees everyone the right to education.

UNESCO’s foremost convention related to education is the Convention Against Discrimination in Education. It is the first international convention that broadly addresses the right to education, and it has been ratified by 109 states since it was adopted in 1960. Unlike other international conventions that are not legally binding, the Convention Against Discrimination in Education provides a strong norm, and the States Parties that have ratified the Convention have an obligation to guarantee the right to education. This Convention acted as a cornerstone of Sustainable Development Goal 4 for education.

Around 244 million children and youths are deprived of education worldwide because of social, economic, and cultural factors; and 98 million of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa. At least 771 million young people and adults lack basic literacy skills, of which two-thirds are women.

School closures due to COVID-19 have caused a devastating education crisis for students who have poor Internet connectivity. Students in developing countries dropped out of school and went to work due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the increased inequality. Especially, girls lost their chances to return to school, being forced to marry. It is estimated that this will reverse the gains of global progress for girls’ education over the last twenty years. As schools closed, working mothers quit their jobs to raise their children.

How to Make a Sustainable Society

By 2022, the world population reached 8 billion. We are facing serious climate disasters, and we have no choice but to cause more carbon emissions to support the increasing population. Undergoing the pandemic and global economic downturn, society was divided and discrimination, inequality, and disputes arose.

However, we will be able to take one step further towards a sustainable future if students receive education on health and hygiene at school, dream of better jobs, being free from poor workplaces or criminal organizations, achieve technological development with their own knowledge, and learn how to cope with climate crisis; and if women can have more opportunities to participate in society through education.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela