This year's Human Rights Day on 10 December is dedicated to Human Rights defenders who act to end discrimination.
The High Commissioner Message for Human Rights Day 2010
The High Commissioner's statement is available as a video. Human Rights Day, marked annually, is this year dedicated to human rights defenders who battle against discrimination.
The theme for Human Rights Day 10 December 2010 is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination.
Human rights defenders acting against discrimination, often at great personal risk to both themselves and their families, are being recognized and acclaimed on this day.
Human rights defenders speak out against abuse and violations including discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. They advocate justice and seek to protect the victims of human rights violations. They demand accountability for perpetrators and transparency in government action. In so doing, they are often putting at risk their own safety, and that of their families.
Some human rights defenders are famous, but most are not. They are active in every part of the world, working alone and in groups, in local communities, in national politics and internationally.
Human Rights Day 2010 will highlight and promote the achievements of human rights defenders and it will again emphasize the primary role Governments must play in enabling and protecting their role. The Day is also intended to inspire a new generation of defenders to speak up and take action to end discrimination in all of its forms whenever and wherever it is manifested.
The story does not end after 10 December 2010. The focus on the work of human rights defenders will continue through all of 2011.
Human Rights Defenders video
The Human Rights Defenders video has been produced specifically to illustrate and support this year's Human Rights Day focus. With its powerful and moving testimonies, it documents the experiences and motivations of a number of human rights defenders from different countries, all working to overcome discrimination of various kinds.
Secretary-General's Message for Human Rights Day 2010
Human rights are the foundation of freedom, peace, development and justice -- and the heart of the work of the United Nations around the world.
Laws to protect and promote human rights are indispensable. But quite often, progress comes down to people… courageous women and men… striving to protect their own rights and the rights of others… determined to make rights real in people's lives.
It is these human rights defenders to whom we dedicate this year's observance of Human Rights Day.
Defenders are a diverse group. They might be part of a civil society organization, a journalist or even a lone citizen, spurred to action by abuses close to home.
But they all share a commitment to expose wrongdoing, protect the most vulnerable and end impunity. They stand up, speak out -- and today they tweet -- in the name of freedom and human dignity.
Human rights defenders play a vital role in the fight against discrimination. They investigate violations and help victims gain justice and support.
Far too often, their work entails tremendous risk.
Defenders are harassed, stripped of their jobs and wrongfully imprisoned. In many countries, they are tortured, beaten and murdered.
Their friends and family members are also subjected to harassment and intimidation.
Women human rights defenders face additional risks, and therefore need additional support.
This Human Rights Day is an occasion to salute the courage and achievements of human rights defenders everywhere – and to pledge to do more to safeguard their work.
States bear the primary responsibility to protect human rights advocates. I call on all States to ensure the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly that make their work possible.
When the lives of human rights advocates are endangered, we are all less secure.
When the voices of human rights advocates are silenced, justice itself is drowned out.
On this Human Rights Day, let us be inspired by those seeking to make our world more just. And let us remember that everyone -- no matter their background, training or education -- can be a human rights champion.
So let us use that power. Let us each be a human rights defender.
Sources and Relevant Links:
UN OHCHR Human Rights Day 2010