Human Rights Day 10 December 2022: Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All

8 December 2022

The 10th of December is Human Rights Day. This day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The UDHR is a milestone document, which recognises and enshrines the inalienable rights of every person – regardless of nationality, race, colour, religion, gender, political or other opinion, language, place of residence or other status.

This year, Human Rights Day holds a particular importance given the acute and diverse impacts on fundamental rights and freedoms globally. Commemorating the day, allows us a moment to pause and reflect on the challenges humanity faces and to strengthen our resolve to respect, honour and support the universal principles recognised in the UDHR.

The theme for Human Rights Day 2022 is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”. These principles are valuable touchstones, as we focus on and seek to address the significant human rights challenges facing the world. These cover the human rights violations resulting from the active armed conflicts, civil wars and political instability in countries such as Ukraine, Ethiopia, The Sahel, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Myanmar and Haiti, to focus on a few; the increasing number of authoritarian governments limiting social and political freedoms and discriminating on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity; the impacts to millions of workers who are being exploited by unfair business practices; the global refugee and migration situation, which the UN has described as creating the “highest levels of displacement on record”.

Beyond these immediate human rights impacts, exists the climate crisis which is already being recognised as creating direct human rights consequences, particularly for populations in developing countries and low-lying territories.

While the situation may appear dispiriting, there is a huge amount of work and focus on improving the situation to seek to provide dignity, freedom and justice for all.

The legal profession can and has played a central role in promoting and protecting human rights. As part of the Withers’ community, there are many examples of recent work which help to support and advance the principles of the UDHR. These include, amongst other highlights:

  • Supporting the people of Ukraine, through our pro-bono work as part of a legal Task Force on Accountability for Crimes Committed in Ukraine, which has recently contributed to a UN resolution supporting the creation of a claims compensation commission.
  • Helping businesses develop and strengthen their respect for human rights through providing advice on modern slavery laws and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • Working with the Centre for Reproductive Rights, which has included writing amici briefs on the right to abortion and the right to due process before domestic constitutional courts, as well as before regional human rights courts and commissions.
  • Advising Sovereign States on the protection of human rights of their citizens and breaches of international human rights treaties.
  • Helping charitable foundations with impact, ethical and ESG investments.

Helping charitable foundations with impact, ethical and ESG investments.

On 10 December, please join us to recognise Human Rights Day and encourage the promotion of the principles of the UDHR.

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This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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