World Human Rights Day

Posted on December 10, 2021

World Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December annually, marking the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out the basic fundamental human rights of all individuals, across the world. World Human Rights Day reminds us of the pledge that member states of the United Nations made, “to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The best-known right is enshrined in article one of the Declaration, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Some of the other rights outlined in the declaration include the “right to life, liberty and security”, the “right to a nationality”, the “right to education” and the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”. Enshrined within the right to a standard of living is the right to basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

There are a number of global and national commitments that have been inspired by these fundamental human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals, for example, aim to tackle global challenges and help realise human rights for all. Additionally, the United Nations raises awareness of the different rights by sharing resources that explain the different rights and potential government actions that would help ensure these rights. They also host celebrations such as World Human Rights Day to bring attention to human rights.

The focus of the 2021 World Human Rights Day is: Equality- reducing inequalities, advancing human rights, relating to article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty and inequality have increased significantly across the world. Additionally, food insecurity and hunger have also increased over the last two years, with the SOFI 2021 report projecting that between 720 and 811 million people across the world faced hunger in 2020. Furthermore, approximately 928 million people were severely food insecure in 2020. This is a significant increase in a period of one year with numbers expected to increase in the next year. These high numbers of food insecurity and malnutrition indicate that the right to food has not been realised.

The right to food should not be a complicated matter. The FAO defines the right to food as, “the right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.” In other words, all people should have access to enough nutritious food to sustain themselves, and governments have the responsibility of ensuring that this is possible. SDG 2: Zero Hunger, sets out to guarantee the right to food, while also supporting actions that improve sustainability. The statistics above indicate that this goal has not yet been realised and that we still have a long way to go to attain food security. Global leaders need to take serious action to achieve the right to food, and commitments such as the SDGs play an important role in encouraging governments to protect and promote fundamental human rights. As we celebrate World Human Rights Day on the 10th of December, we should reflect on the importance of promoting human rights, and what actions we need to take to realise these rights.

- Author Andrea du Toit
Published by Andrea du Toit

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2022. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences