No one left behind

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Equality has been at the core of all social debates for many years. In principle, it should be simple: we are all humans, and as such, we are equals, but in practice, societies have struggled with the concept of equality throughout time and history. 

Leaving no one behind and seeking equality and non-discrimination is at the heart of Sustainable Development. With that in mind, the UN Sustainable development goal 16 promotes peaceful and inclusive societies by providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. 

Human Rights Day 

The United Nations General Assembly created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. With it, Human Rights Day came to be. Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10th, the day the focuses on the importance of equality among humanity regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or any other status. 

This year's Human Rights Day theme relates to 'Equality' and focuses on Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Act – "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." 

Equality is aligned with the world's 2030 Sustainable Agenda. We need to work together to address and find solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination. We have come a long way, and we no longer support or condone discrimination against women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants, and people with disabilities. Equality, inclusion, and non-discrimination is the only way to reduce inequalities across nations. 

We must "rebuild better, fairer, greener." 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated to over 500 languages, holding the Guinness World Record as the most translated document in the world! It proposes a series of articles covering each right, including: 

The right to equality 

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

The right to life

This right means that no one has the right to kill another person. The right to life is often invoked in discussions surrounding war, police brutality, capital punishment, and self-defense.

The right to freedom from torture and inhumane treatment

This right means no one should be subject to "torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" under any circumstance. Also frequently invoked in discussions surrounding war, police brutality and capital punishment, and human experimentation with or without consent. 

Freedom from slavery and forced labor

This right means no one should be held in slavery or servitude. The right relating to forced labor is absolute. However, some exceptions include work done as part of a prison or community sentence or work required in a state of emergency, like after a natural or man-made disaster. Also, work that is a civil duty, like jury service. 

The right to privacy

This right covers protection from government surveillance. The UDHR describes this right as freedom from "arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence." The right to privacy frequently comes in discussions relating to technology, the power of intelligence agencies when dealing with terrorism, and, more recently, data collection from organizations like Facebook and Google.

The right to marry and have family

This right states that every one of "full age without any limitation due to race, nationality, or religion" has the right to get married and start a family. However, both people in the marriage must give their free and full consent. In addition, the right to marry is not an absolute right, which means that it's subject to national laws that make certain marriages (like a marriage between close relatives) illegal.

The right to freedom of thought, religion, opinion, and expression 

Everyone has the right to form their own opinions, follow a religion of choice, and change their beliefs at any time. In many countries, "freedom of expression" or "freedom of speech" is considered the most important right. However, there are debates as to what counts as "protected speech". 

The right to work

Everyone has the right to work, but they also have the right to have "favorable conditions" and protections against unemployment. People should also be entitled to equal pay for equal work. However, "Equal pay for equal work" remains a big issue often related to discrimination based on gender or race.

The right to education

All human rights are important. However, many consider the right to education a main priority because it leads to sustainable development. The UDHR says that education must be free through elementary school. Later, technical and professional education should be available and accessible to all. To this day, women and girls still face significant barriers to their education around the world. 

There are other rights in the UDHR focusing on other areas, such as the right to free elections, the right to a fair trial, and the right to no punishment without law, among others. You can read more about each article by visiting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Act. 

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Thinking Cap On


The ‘We are all human, all equal campaign’ from the UN aims to get young people involved in the conversation. Using hashtags #StandUp4HumanRights #HumanRightsDay, you too can share your views. 

Then, with the help of an adult, share your thoughts online. We are all equal. We are all human. Let's show the world.