Human Rights Day 2010 – Focus on Human Rights Defenders

Today, the international community celebrates Human Rights Day 2010.  The United Nations festivities will focus on human rights defenders and ending discrimination, as detailed in UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s message.

Worldwide, the 60th annual commemoration of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly 62 years ago today, focused particular attention on two activists: detained Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo and detained WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  The Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony took place in Oslo today without the presence of Liu Xiaobo or his family members; instead, an empty chair marked his absence and reminded those in attendance that the laureate sits in prison, having been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for his role in the publication of Charter ’08, a call for peaceful democratic reform in China published two years ago today.

Similarly, while WikiLeaks‘ release of U.S. government documents providing confidential details on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. diplomacy prompted government efforts to shut off WikiLeaks’ funding and online presence, WikiLeaks  supporters demonstrated their opposition to such efforts and to Assange’s arrest in London this week.

Read Amnesty International’s profile of Liu Xiaobo here, and The New Yorker profile of Julian Assange here.

A brief history of the drafting and adoption of the UDHR can be found here.  For an animated depiction of the Declaration’s provisions, see Amnesty International‘s 1988 film.

For information on the state of human rights guarantees around the world, visit the Human Rights Conditions page.

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