Human rights Day 2009embrace diversity, end discrimination

“Discrimination lies at the root of many of the world’s most pressing
human rights problems. No country is immune from this
scourge. Eliminating discrimination is a duty of the
highest order.”

Navi Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights



Human Rights Day 2009 on 10 December will focus on non-discrimination. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. These first few famous words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established 60 years ago the basic premise of international human rights law. Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.

“Our main objective is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all,” says the High Commissioner who this year will mark Human Rights Day in South Africa.

She encourages people everywhere - including the UN family, governments, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, educators, and individuals - to seize the opportunity of Human Rights Day 2009 to join hands to embrace diversity and end discrimination.

The realisation of all human rights - social, economic and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights – is hampered by discrimination. All too often, when faced with prejudice and discrimination, political leaders, governments and ordinary citizens are silent or complacent.

Yet everyone of us can make a difference. You are encouraged to celebrate Human Rights Day by advocating non-discrimination, organizing activities, raising awareness and reaching out to your local communities on 10 December and throughout 2010. 

Human Rights Day

South Africa

  • Students from around the world will take part in the first World Human Rights Moot Competition organized by the University of Pretoria with the support of the OHCHR. They will argue a fictional human rights case on the principle of non-discrimination before the High Commissioner presiding over a panel of high level judges.
  • There will be a public celebration at Freedom Park at which the High Commissioner will speak along with representatives from the Government, civil society and academia.
  • The High Commissioner is to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pretoria at a graduation ceremony for students graduating from the Masters programme in Human Rights and Democratization. 

New York


  • Women from 28 countries will convene for an international summit, “The Courage to Lead: A Human Rights Summit for Women Leaders”. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang will deliver a key-note address to delegates who will focus their discussions on the protection of human rights for women and the best ways women leaders can contribute in their own countries.

Join hands to end discrimination

 All human rights work can be viewed through the non-discrimination lens. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

These stories describe its impact on peoples’ lives and the work everyone can support to end discrimination.

High Commissioner: Complacency is discrimination’s best friend First World Human Rights Moot Court argues against discrimination
An indigenous community in Burundi battles for equal treatment
High Commissioner’s Keynote Address Human Rights Day, 2009