Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10th is Human Rights Day

Today marks the 60th annual Human Rights Day, celebrating the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted between January 1947 and December 1948. It aimed to form a basis for human rights all over the world and represented a significant change of direction from events during World War II and the continuing colonialism that was rife in the world at the time. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered as the most translated document in modern history. It is available in more than 360 languages and new translations are still being added.

The UN General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France, on the December 10, 1948. All states and interested organizations were invited to mark December 10 as Human Rights Day at a UN meeting on December 4, 1950. It was first observed on December 10 that year and has been observed each year on the same date.

From, here are just a few of the most encouraging human rights stories of 2010:

Treaty Outlawing Forced Disappearance: After years of work by human rights activists, a landmark treaty aimed at abolishing forced disappearances will take effect. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, will enter into force on December 23 following its ratification by Iraq. Citing the convention, Amnesty International has called on all countries to end disappearances.

Repeal of Argentina's Dirty War Law: Argentina took a major step toward bringing to justice those responsible for its infamous "Dirty War" of the 1970s, repealing laws that protected military officials from prosecution for crimes committed during this period. Hundreds of perpetrators including ex-General Videla and ex-General Menendez are now imprisoned.

Arrest Warrant for Sudan President: In July, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced a second arrest warrant for Sudan's president Omar Al-Bashir, charging him with three counts of genocide. Bashir has presided over the genocide in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have been murdered, raped and driven from their homes.

British Settlement With Guantanamo Detainees: In November, the British government announced that it had reached a settlement to pay compensation to 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees for the abuses they suffered in U.S. custody. This landmark agreement sent a strong signal that, at least in Great Britain, there will be accountability for the extra-legal measures that flourished at the notorious prison camp.

Cambodian War Crimes Conviction: More than three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the first conviction was handed down for atrocities committed in one of the 20th Century's worst genocides. Comrade Duch, who ran a prison where thousands were tortured and killed, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Removal of Nuremberg Clause: The American Psychological Association (APA) finally removed the so-called "Nuremberg Defense" from its code of conduct. This clause, which was added in 2002 at the height of the Bush administration's influence, allowed mental health professionals to dispense with professional ethics when they conflicted with "law, regulations, and other governing legal authority."

US Supreme Court Landmark Ruling Against Human Rights Abuses: For the first time, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Samantar v. Yousuf that foreign government officials, who commit atrocities and then avail themselves of the benefits of living in the U.S., are not immune for torture, rape and other war crimes.

No comments: