“Free and equal in dignity”: the Human Rights Day theme

“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”. These are the opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, voted in Paris on 10 December 1948 and in order to highlight its universal value, the Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December every year. Indeed, this year’s Human Right Day theme relates to the first sentence of the Charter.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights so much so that, as explained by the United Nations, “equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document ‘Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development’. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others”.

Equality, inclusion and non-discrimination, in other words, are considered the best way to reduce inequalities and resume our path towards realizing the 2030 Agenda. “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home, so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world”, Eleanor Roosevelt wondered in her famous speech for the tenth anniversary of the Declaration in 1958.

Today, instead, the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella is the one underlining “the outstanding importance” of this day.

The Italian Head of State noted: “The persistence of inequalities which embrace the political, economical and social sphere contradicts the principle of equality and generates intolerable discrimination. Moreover, the pandemic crisis has further increased the existing gaps, worsening the condition of those who are in more vulnerable situations”.

He concluded: “Today it is necessary to reiterate the universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent character of human rights, because their enjoyment from everyone is an indispensable condition for an authentically sustainable development. The societies able to offer everyone the opportunities to realize their potential are more inclusive, free and prosperous societies, therefore more resilient”.

In order to keep the focus on this theme, the United Nations provided for the realization of events all over the world, starting from a Q&A in Geneva with the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet who, in a streaming event available on different platforms, will answer the questions on human rights and equality. Some information events will take place also in Costa Rica, Cameroon, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Southeast Asia.