The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: challenges remaining

8 December, 2011

Since 1950, two years after the adoption by the UN’s General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December has been celebrated annually as International Human Rights Day.

 

Peaceful protest: a cornerstone of democracy. How to address the challenges?

Thursday 26-Saturday 28 January 2012 (WP1154)

Proclaimed in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the most translated documents in modern history. Human Rights Day, observed annually on 10 December, serves to acknowledge this framework’s prevailing international significance, through celebration, education and sometimes protest.

This year’s Human Rights Day takes inspiration both from transitions in the Arab world and the protests of the Occupy Movement, highlighting particularly the important role played by social media in shaping these recent political mobilisations. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that “it has been a year like no other for human rights’ and that ‘through the transforming power of social media, ordinary people have become human rights activists.”

Against this background, we will hold a meeting on ‘Peaceful protest: a cornerstone of democracy. How to address the challenges’, in January 2012. The meeting aims to achieve greater clarity on the human implications of peaceful protest, identify common ground among the international community for ways and means to strengthen protection for human rights in times of civil protest and examine the current role of social media within the human rights agenda and its further potential.

This meeting is part of a series of Wilton Park human rights meetings organised since 2005 with generous sponsorship from the Norwegian and Swiss governments. The latest meeting in this series occurred in January 2011, under the theme of The UN framework for business and human rights. The meeting brought together all major stakeholders to discuss, on an informal basis, the draft Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, elaborated through the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Professor John Ruggie, and helped prepare the way for the adoption of the Guiding Principles at the meeting of the UN’s Human Rights Council in June 2011.

Other recent Wilton Park meetings addressing human rights issues include Promoting religious freedom around the world and 2020 vision for the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite the immense progress in human rights protection since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, effective implementation of civil and political, as well as social and economic rights remains a serious challenge throughout the world. International Human Rights Day serves as a clear reminder that more needs to be done. Our Human rights, democracy and governance programme provides a key platform for advancing global solutions.

 

Further information

Conference on Peaceful protest: a cornerstone of democracy How to address the challenges?  

United Nations Human Rights – Human Rights Day 2011

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