Human Rights Day is observed every year on this day, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the world celebrates the rights of every human being — no matter the race, color, religion, gender, language, social or another such status.
According to the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available in more than 500 different languages, making it the most widely translated document in the world.
The document states that all humans have the following inalienable rights:
- Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
- No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. Slavery and slave trade is prohibited in all forms.
- No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
- All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection without any discrimination.
- Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the rights granted to him by the law.
- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
- Everyone is entitled to full equality to a fair and public hearing in the determination of his or her rights and of any criminal charges against him or her.
- Anyone charged with an offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. No one shall be held guilty of any offense not written in law at the time the act was committed.
- No one shall be subjected to an arbitrary interference of his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence — nor to attacks upon his or her honor or reputation.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence, along with the right to leave any country, including his or her own, and to return to his or her own country.
- Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries, so long as it is not a case of prosecution from non-political crimes or from acts that go against the principals of the United Nations.
- Everyone has the right to a nationality, and no one shall be deprived of his or her nationality — nor denied the right to change his or her nationality.
- Men and women of full age have the right to consensually marry, found a family and dissolve a marriage (should they choose). Both partners have equal rights before, during and after marriage.
- Everyone has the right to own property alone, as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, along with the right to change his or her beliefs and the right to manifest his or her beliefs in public or private.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to hold opinions without interference and receive and impart information through any media.
- Everyone has the right to peacefully assemble and associate, but no one may be compelled to belong to any association.
- Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his or her country, have equal access to public services in his or her country and to express his or her vote equally in periodic genuine elections.
- Everyone has the right to social security and is entitled to economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his or her dignity and free development of his or her personality.
- Everyone has the right to work for an employer that he or she chooses, to favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone has the right to equal and fair pay for equal work and to form and to join trade unions to protect his or her interests.
- Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
- Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of him- or herself and their family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
- Everyone has the right to free education, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory and shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening and respect for human rights and freedoms.
- Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Everyone has the protection of the moral and material interests of any scientific, literary or artistic endeavors that he or she authors.
- Everyone is entitled to the kind of world where the above rights and freedoms can be fully realized.
- Everyone has a responsibility to the community in which he or she lives and to watch out for others in that community. No one should use his or her freedom to go against the principles of the United Nations.
- Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying that any group or person has a right to destroy any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Today at Mercy, we stand up for our own rights and the rights of others — advocating for equality, justice, peace and freedom from violence. As we welcome winter weather on this snowy Western North Carolina day, remember to be a vessel for kindness, for love and for understanding.