The United Nations' (UN) Human Rights Day is annually observed December 10 to mark the anniversary of the presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights provide a foundation for building a just and peaceful world. Every human being on the planet has the right to dignity, respect, and freedom - whatever their race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth or other status.

On 10 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects - from Abkhaz to Zulu. It is the holder of the Guinness World Record for the document that has been most translated.


December 10, 2014

Dear IAOHRA Members, 

Happy Human Rights Day!

This anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers a welcome opportunity to celebrate the fundamental idea that all people are born equal in dignity and rights.  It is also a time to take stock of how these rights are respected in our own backyard.

Many IAOHRA members are honoring this day though local commemorations.  Today, we want to take a moment to celebrate each of you as human rights heroes.  President Obama underscored that income inequality is the defining challenge of our time.  Your daily work is essential to addressing this challenge by combatting discrimination and fostering equality in your communities

This August, 50 years after the March on Washington many of gathered at the annual IAOHRA conference to reflect on where we are now and where we are going.  The conference focused on critical human rights issues, including housing, equitable development and employment.  We also had the opportunity to explore concrete strategies to incorporate international human rights standards into local policy and hear examples from Eugene, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah, among others.  At the conference we shared a joint IAOHRA and HRI report, recently submitted to the United Nations, which highlights promising human rights strategies from many of your agencies.

We are also excited to report that IAOHRA adopted five resolutions, all reaffirming the core values found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including ensuring equal voting rights for all, eliminating racial profiling, proactively addressing the root causes of discrimination and advancing racial justice.  

Two resolutions explicitly connected your daily work to international human rights principles, and can serve as a guide for your actions in the upcoming year.  As in recent years, the IAOHRA membership adopted a resolution to promote and encourage a broader understanding of international human rights.  This resolution signaled a commitment to take at least one action to incorporate international human rights standards locally, in collaboration with other state and local government actors.    

IAOHRA also adopted a resolution to promote the civil and human rights of homeless persons, including through homeless bills of rights.  Through this resolution, IAOHRA recognized that efforts to criminalize homelessness, such as penalizing basic life-sustaining activities and disparate enforcement of laws against homeless people, violate our international human rights obligations.  Further, the membership resolved to affirm the human rights of homeless individuals through homeless bills of rights, and to promote the human right to adequate housing, and other constructive solutions to homelessness. 

Notably, both of these resolutions align with commitments of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and offer opportunities to partner with mayors.  In 2013, the USCM similarly adopted resolutions committing to promote international human rights and to enhance efforts to address homelessness, including through recommendations laid out in the 2012 report by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and Department of Justice, Searching Out Solutions.

HRI looks forward to continuing a strong partnership with IAOHRA and working with member agencies to advance international human rights principles in these and other ways.  We have detailed a number of promising human rights strategies that agencies already using in several reports, available here and here.  We are thrilled to work with you in your efforts to bring human rights home in your community.  

You can contact JoAnn Kamuf Ward at jward@law.columbia.edu with any questions.

Happy Human Rights Day.

JoAnn Kamuf Ward
Associate Director
Human Rights in the U.S. Project
Columbia Law School, Human Rights Institute

Jean M. Kelleher
International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies



Stand Up and Be Counted ....See How Other Member Agencies Are Celebrating Human Rights Day

Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on December 10. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Since 2008, The Salt Lake City Mayor's Office of Diversity & Human Rights and the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission host a human rights day event in Salt Lake City, Utah. All proceeds from the event go to support the Human Rights Education Project, a series of 8 workshops designed to educate refugee and immigrant populations about their legal rights in the United States. Workshops discuss the following topics: Workers' and Tenant Rights, Workplace Safety, Law Enforcement, Gang Prevention, Sexual Violence Prevention, Criminal Justice, and U.S. Citizenship.

Tickets purchased for the event are non-refundable. Tickets purchased in advance will be picked up at the door on the day of the event. To pay in either cash or check, visit the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office, located at the City & County Building on 451 South State Street, Room 306. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the day of the event for $20. Students receive a discounted ticket price of $8.

Free parking is available at the College of Social Work and in a small parking lot across the street from the event venue. Visitor parking is available at the University of Utah for an hourly fee. The event can also be reached by public transportation via TRAX (Light Rail 703 - Red Line) and bus.

For any questions regarding the event, please contact Yolanda Francisco-Nez at 801-535-7734 or yolanda.francisco-nez@slcgov.com or Chelsea Eddy at 801-535-7110 or chelsea.eddy@slcgov.com.

Visit http://www.slcgov.com/odhr to learn more about ODHR.








The Illinois Department of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A Magna Carta For All Humanity – The Thirty Articles

The Illinois Department of Human Rights commemorates Human Rights Day December 10, 2013. Human Rights Day reminds us that people all over the world are working within their respective countries to create positive social change by using the international human rights framework to connect global issues with local concerns.

Protections offered under human rights laws provide a powerful affirmation of human dignity by translating ideals into concrete improvements in the everyday lives of people around the globe.

Knowing this to be true, the Illinois Department of Human Rights has been working diligently to ensure for all individuals within the State of Illinois freedom from unlawful discrimination and to promote equal opportunity and affirmative action by enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act. See complete brochure. Here.


Human Rights Day Celebration in 2012

Metro Human Relations Commission, Nashville Tennessee

The Metro Human Relations Commission is once again pleased to co-sponsor Middle Tennessee's International Human Rights Day Program. The 2012 event will take place Monday, December 10th, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., at the Metro Nashville Police Department's North Precinct. The event is free and open to public.

This annual program sets the stage for recognizing members of the community for their contributions to the advancement of human rights and personal dignity.  The 2012 honorees include Rosetta Miller Perry, Rev. Bill Barnes, and Attorney George Barrett for Lifetime Achievement in the field. Rising Advocate awards will be presented to Daoud Abudiab and Cecilia Gomez.  Metro Human Relations Commissioner and attorney, Alistair Newbern, will join Rev. Sonnye Dixon, and Judge Jocelyn Wurzburg in a panel discussion on the topic of “Building a Culture of Human Rights.” This year’s program will also include performances by award-wining singer-songwriter, Ross Falzone, and youth poets from Southern Word.

Mark your calendar today for the 2012 International Human Rights Day program.  Please feel free to share this invitation and attached flyer with your personal and professional network.   In addition to the Metro Human Relations Commission, the planning committee for the 2012 program includes the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Church of Scientology, United Nations Association, and Women on Maintaining Education and Nutrition.


The Missouri Commission on Human Rights

Dr. Alisa Warren, MCHR Executive Director The Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) celebrates International Human Rights Day on Friday, December 7, 2012, from 10am to 3pm in the Magnolia Room at the Double Tree Hotel located at 422 Monroe Street in Jefferson City, Missouri. The program will feature a panel of experts on fair housing and accessibility, affirmatively furthering fair housing, human trafficking, and convictions in employment decisions.  In keeping with our program theme of “Equality for All Missourians”, MCHR has been working diligently to expand human rights partnerships and strengthen networks across the state of Missouri by building relationships with local human rights groups.  The International Human Rights Day celebration provides a unique opportunity for all our partners and advocates to come together to educate, network, and honor those who have exhibited extraordinary efforts to promote human rights in Missouri.

The Awards Luncheon will honor the exceptional accomplishments in the areas of: “Disability Awareness Award” (Maryann “Miki” Gudermuth- SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence); “Fair Housing Advocate Award” (Will Jordan, Esq.- St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council); “Local Human Rights Commission of the Year” (Kelly Johnson- Springfield Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations); “Judge Arnold Krekel Trailblazer Award” (Michael Bates- University of Missouri Kansas City); and the “Lucile Bluford Lifetime Achievement Award” (Sheryl Rose- Missouri Commission on Human Rights).  The program will also showcase artwork and essays from K-12 students that have participated in the “Show-Me Fair Housing Awareness Project” annual poster and journalism contest. 

Dr. Alisa Warren, MCHR Executive Director will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for the program.  The event is free and open to the public.  To RSVP contact Deborah “DJ” Sarber at: Deborah.Sarber@labor.mo.gov


Seattle Office for Civil Rights and the Seattle Human Rights Commission

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights and the Seattle Human Rights Commission will celebrate Human Rights Day on Thursday, December 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Seattle City Hall.

This 17th annual celebration will feature keynote speaker Van Jones, a Yale-educated attorney who has written two New York Times best sellers: The Green Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs, and Rebuild the Dream, a roadmap for progressives in 2012 and beyond. In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House where he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will present the annual Human Rights Award to community activist Rita Zawaideh and to Washington United for Marriage (the coalition that successfully advocated for marriage equality in our state).  Magdaleno “Leno” Rose-Avila, Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, will serve as master of ceremonies. 

Event Co-Sponsors include Amnesty International, the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, the United Nations Association of Seattle, King County Civil Rights Commission, and other community partners.

The event is free and open to the public.  ASL provided.  RSVP:  felicia.yearwood@seattle.gov



Tennessee Human Rights Commission Building a Culture of Human Rights Celebration  (Flyer)


The Tennessee Human Rights Commission celebrates Human Rights Day annually through a variety of efforts.

  •  Proclamation from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (see attached)
  •  Serve on planning committee for Human Rights Day in Nashville along with other human rights agencies and community groups (including the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission, Church of Scientology, AFL-CIO and United Nations Nashville Chapter)

o   Human Rights Day in Nashville is a free event open to the public (please find the flyer attached)

o   This year’s theme is Building A Culture of Human Rights

o   The event gives awards to local human rights heroes: lifetime achievement and rising advocates

o   A relevant entertainment portion – this year features a student troupe of performing artists who write/perform poetry

o   Panel Discussion & Keynote Address from local human rights leaders to discuss the theme for the year

o   The event features student art submitted by local high school students. The students are prompted to create art in honor of the Declaration and the rights within it.

  •  Executive Director Beverly Watts submits an Opinion article to the state’s largest newspaper, The Tennessean, discussing the importance of Human Rights Day.