Human Rights Day 2022: Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All

Posted on December 12th, 2022 by

Over the weekend the world marked Human Rights Day, the 74th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the beginning of a yearlong #StandUpForHumanRights campaign by the United Nations to highlight human rights activism in advance of the 75th anniversary on December, 10, 2023.

This year the theme of the celebration is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All, reflecting the first words of the UDHR’s Preamble: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

The UDHR website notes that while much progress has been made in past decades towards increasing human rights for women, children, LGBTQ people, and Indigenous people, there has also been a backsliding towards authoritarianism in many parts of the world:

In the decades since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, human rights have become more recognised and more guaranteed across the globe. It has since served as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protection that today focuses also on vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrants.

However, the promise of the UDHR, of dignity and equality in rights, has been under a sustained assault in recent years. As the world faces challenges new and ongoing – pandemics, conflicts, exploding inequalities, morally bankrupt global financial system, racism, climate change – the values, and rights enshrined in the UDHR provide guideposts for our collective actions that do not leave anyone behind.

Human rights and freedom of expression:

Last year, Gustavus Library endorsed the American Library Association’s statement on the Universal Right to Free Expression and its assertion that “freedom of expression is an inalienable human right and the foundation for self-government.” The ALA defines freedom of expression as encompassing the “freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and association, and the corollary right to receive information without interference and without compromising personal privacy.” In promoting human rights, the Library takes special responsibility for promoting freedom of expression and the right to access to information every day. Most recently, the Library endorsed the November 29, 2021 ALA statement opposing widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries.

More information:

Library Resources: To celebrate Human Rights Day, we’ve curated this list of new books highlighting human rights activism in the United States and around the world.


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