Countdown to Human Rights Day
UN Voluntary Fund helps those on the road to recovery from slavery
This paper has been developed in the framework of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) by a group of human rights education experts from the five continents, who met in January 1997 at the United Nations High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights in Geneva, as their contribution to the preparations for the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
More than 50 ideas have been grouped under the following headings: General Activities , Governments , Parliaments/Political Parties , Schools and Youth Organizations , Universities or Institutes , Cultural Sector , Religious Sector , Media and Internet , Corporations and Business Community , Professional Organizations , Trade Unions , Health Sector , Town Councils and Community Organizations , Libraries , NGO's, Social Service Agencies, Community Service Organizations, Women's Groups, and Advocacy Groups . This list is not exhaustive and it is hoped that it may serve as inspiration for other ideas which could be shared with all interested partners.
1. Logo: Develop a national UDHR 50th Anniversary logo for widespread general use (e.g., public documents, publications, banners, tee shirts, pins).
2. Postage stamp and coins: Issue UDHR 50th Anniversary commemorative postage stamp and coins.
3. "A UDHR in every pocket": During the anniversary year, make one-page copies of the UDHR available in every public place (e.g., post offices, libraries, polling places, schools). Where possible, include in official mailings (e.g., with tax notices, telephone bills). Include a copy when issuing public documents (e.g., marriage licences, birth certificates, driver's licences, passports, telephone books, telephone cards, etc.). Reproduce the Declaration using various formats (bookmarks, brochures, etc.). Introduce the Declaration into everyday life by printing the entire text/selected articles on public transit, milk containers, etc.
4. A UDHR 50th Anniversary national calendar: Select two or three UDHR articles on which to focus each month during the anniversary year. Coordinate these with local, national, and international holidays (e.g., Article 15 during the month of a national independence day; Article 18 during a religious holiday period; Article 23 in May).
5. A UDHR 50th Anniversary award (annual award): Institute an award honouring national human rights heroes/defenders. These might be categorized by specific areas (e.g., an "Article 14 award" for contributions to refugee rights). Interested organizations would be best able to find ways to honour the contributions of local human rights heroes. Celebrate your own heroes, particularly the un-sung ones. Invite leaders, peace laureates, and others who have struggled publicly and internationally for human rights to your country to be honoured.
6. An international moment for the UDHR: Plan a specific date and time, perhaps on 10 December 1998, at 12 noon, when all citizens will honour the UDHR. Let citizens across the country unite in a common symbolic action (e.g., lighting of candles, a moment of silence, ringing of bells or sirens, raising of flag, half-an-hour human rights programmes at schools, concerts for children).
7. "Human rights communities": Encourage communities or sectors of all sizes (e.g., a village, a school, a university, a workplace, a senior citizens' centre) to declare themselves to be "human rights communities". As such they will promote the observance of and respect for human rights and evaluate how their community lives up to the standards set out in the UDHR. These may form into a network of "human rights communities".
8. "Human rights spaces": Dedicate a "human rights space" for UDHR 50th Anniversary activities in every village, town, or city neighbourhood (e.g., a meeting hall, a gallery, a display area or bulletin board at the market, a public garden). Individuals or community groups could use it in a variety of ways to express/illustrate/discuss how they experience human rights in their professional, religious, cultural, or personal lives.
9. Human rights walkways/murals: Designate a public walkway where each article of the UDHR is illustrated in some way. Such a walkway might be designed around sculpture, stepping stones through a public garden, or graphics in any frequently used public place (e.g., transportation centers, shopping areas, sports centers). Murals could also be developed.
10. UDHR "Travelling textbooks": Paint or decorate public vehicles (e.g., trains, streetcars, utility vehicles) with UDHR celebration information; a fleet of vehicles or series of train cars could each bear a different article of the UDHR. Offer an award for original design (e.g., the best decorated UDHR taxi).
11. December 10 -public holiday: Declare December 10 a public holiday (each year from 1997 onwards).
12. Public readings: Organize public readings of the UDHR (in schools, parliaments, meetings of ministers, markets, etc.).
13. Twinnings: Organize twinnings between countries/cities or sectors in different countries which will contribute to raising the profile of activities in the respective countries in order to share ideas and to provide mutual support for twinned entities.
14. Fund-raising: Fund-raise for national/international human rights funds (as a part of national income).
15. Plans of action: Adopt national plans of action for advancing human rights into the 21st century. In particular, Governments could consider adopting a national plan of action for human rights education, as a contribution to the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004).
16. Host a national/ international conference on the implementation of the UDHR in your country.
17. Strengthen national infrastructures for the promotion and protection of human rights.
18. Form a non-partisan all-party human rights caucus in Parliament.
19. Declare a Human Rights Year (1998), week (around 10 December), or a Human Rights Day (10 December).
20. Organize parliamentary debates and pass resolutions concerning the UDHR.
21. Review national legislation in order to bring it into conformity with international human rights standards/Ratify international human rights treaties.
22. Pass appropriate budgets for human rights education.
23. Request that Government convenes a meeting of ministers responsible for human rights and human rights education.
24. "Appoint" human rights ambassadors on a voluntary basis (celebrities).
Schools and Youth Organizations:
25. Train youth to teach the contents of the UDHR to younger children in schools, youth organizations, on the streets and to the population in general (for instance through summer employment programmes, volunteer work, etc.).
26. Develop oral history projects where children interview elders, especially those born before 1948, about their experience of human rights (e.g., how are their lives different because of the UDHR?). These oral histories could be published, broadcast, or turned into dramatic presentations.
27. Organize a "youth caravan" or cross-country walk where young people will travel to rural areas to make presentations on the UDHR for both children and adults.
28. Sponsor school art and writing competitions on the UDHR with the winners' work being published, printed on calendars, used on postage stamps, or otherwise widely distributed.
29. Organize programmes relating to the UDHR aimed at integrating "marginalized youth" into the mainstream of society.
30. Organize street theatre, dance and other popular presentations relating to the UDHR and human rights created and presented by youth for a variety of audiences.
31. Encourage children to create songs relating to the UDHR that may be performed or published.
32. Organize conferences, seminars, pre-service and in-service training for teachers on the UDHR and human rights education.
33. Have Ministries of Education set a minimum number of school hours to be devoted to human rights education.
34. Use literacy programmes as a means to teach about human rights.
Universities or Institutes:
35. Award honorary degrees to human rights activists.
36. Organize exhibitions.
37. Organize workshops, seminars, lectures, debates and symposia on human rights inside and outside the institution.
38. Promote a national human rights research award/prize.
39. Promote the establishment of university chairs for human rights education and research.
40. Sponsor lecture series, concerts, exhibits and other cultural events relating to the UDHR and human rights education.
41. Commission works of art especially for the UDHR anniversary (e.g., an oratorio based onthe UDHR, public monuments) and provide a setting for their presentation.
42. Sponsor a UDHR art, poetry, music or essay competition for adults, students or children, with winners presented at UDHR celebration events.
43. Organize UDHR 50th Anniversary travelling exhibits and performing tours to reach rural communities.
44. Organize sports competitions with a 50th Anniversary Cup.
45. Arrange for the creation of a national human rights quilt with participating communities creating one square of the quilt.
46. Use local festivals (multicultural, arts and music, etc.) to promote the Universal Declaration.
47. Benefit from existing events Women's Day, Labour Day etc.) to draw attention to human rights issues and the UDHR.
48. Organize a cross-country tour of a major music group promoting the UDHR.
49. Have a "human rights stand" at international/national book fairs to disseminate materials and to encourage publishers to publish human rights materials.
50. Hold conferences and seminars on the role of religious communities in the promotion of the UDHR.
51. Use religious communities as a setting for human rights education.
52. Organization of cultural and social events by religious communities with the UDHR as a celebration theme.
Media and Internet:
53. Ensure the help of public personalities in media appearances to promote respect for human rights and to raise consciousness of human rights problems.
54. Establish an award for excellence in human rights reporting (e.g. juried prize at national and regional levels for journalists covering domestic and international human rights issues over the course of the year).
55. Establish a regular place in printed publications for UDHR 50th Anniversary information and commentary (e.g., an on-going section for essays, editorials, comments from people of all ages, stories about national and international human rights heroes).
56. Establish a regular time on radio and television for human rights programming (e.g., a human rights film series, a radio show featuring human rights discussion, plays and documentaries based on national/cultural human rights heroes or historical events reinterpreted in human rights terms, spots by children and youth talking about the UDHR, series of children's television programmes based on the UDHR) and human rights education themes.
57. Publish the UDHR in all national/local newspapers on 10 December 1997 and 1998.
58. Create a national web site for the UDHR 50th Anniversary with information, documents and a calendar of events, and publicize it.
59. Plan a national communications strategy, placing emphasis on making human rights a familiar issue -using mediums such as posters and logos on buses, streetcars, etc.
Corporations and Business Community:
60. Introduce human rights themes and figures in publicity and advertising (e.g. on food products, soda cans, cereal boxes, etc.).
61. Establish foundations for the promotion and protection of human rights.
62. Organize high profile functions with a human rights theme (may be fundraising functions, presentations of awards, etc.).
63. Support initiatives at the community and provincial level with backing and donations from banks. Involve small businesses as well.
64. Hold conferences and seminars or introduce courses on human rights and the profession.
65. Raise awareness of human rights among users of the services rendered by the profession (e.g., distribution of accessible information materials to users; holding workshops and public education sessions on various human rights issues).
66. Issue a "special issue" of professional newsletter on the UDHR.
67. Promote special events in educational establishments (such as police academies, schools of journalism, etc.).
68. Hold conferences and seminars or introduce courses on human rights and labour; organize grass-roots human rights training for trade unionists and other workers' groups.
69. Organize, in collaboration with unions, a special workers' day celebration marking the UDHR.
70. Solidarity Day with patients.
71. International Human Rights Day Babies (born on 10 December) and Human Rights Anniversary Babies for those born in 1998.
72. Promote/advocate inclusion of human rights and medical ethics in professional training.
Town Councils and Community Organizations:
73. Establish a community human rights award for local contributions to human rights.
74. Have communities involved in creating community murals on public or private walls with the Declaration theme.
75. Sponsor UDHR 50th Anniversary celebrations and human rights education activities.
76 Promote the idea of raising human rights issues in cities through their national organizations.
77. The city hall could be asked to plan a day of speakers and activities, such as a "Festival of Human Rights".
78. Distribute bookmarks recommending books on human rights for both young and adult readers.
79. Display books and magazines on human rights subjects, especially around 10 December.
80. Organize lecture series, film series, or book discussions on the UDHR and human rights topics.
81. Organize a "UDHR bus" to travel through the countryside bringing information, training, materials and speakers to rural areas.
82. Organize exhibits displaying developments from 1948 to 1998 in the field of human rights. The exhibit could be mobile and used in various frameworks.
NGO's, Social Service Agencies, Community Service Organizations, Women's Groups, and Advocacy Groups:
83. Redefine daily life/work in human rights terms.
84. Educate membership and the community on how an organization's activities relate to human rights.
85. Distribute information and educational materials (e.g., publicity posters, fliers, calendars showing human rights events, UN pictures) to constituencies.