Celebrating 70 Years of the UDHR Toolkit

Thanks to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and nations’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid. While its promise is yet to be fulfilled, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity. To highlight what the UDHR means for people in their everyday lives, UN Human Rights is launching a year-long campaign that will culminate on the Declaration’s 70th anniversary on December 10, 2018.

Fast Facts


  • The UDHR is made up of a preamble and 30 articles. (Simplified version)
  • The UDHR is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the U.S., diplomat and activist, chaired the UDHR drafting committee and is recognized as the driving force for the Declaration’s adoption.
  • Human rights vs civil rights: You have human rights simply because you are a human being and civil rights are given to you by a government.

Significance of the 70th Anniversary

  • “The values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are as relevant and timeless today as they were 70 years ago. During this celebration of its adoption, it is important to acknowledge the gap between its promise and its implementation. This is a challenging time for human rights advocates: a time when many human rights norms and standards are under threat, when we are witnessing a rise in xenophobic populism, profiling on racial and religious grounds, attacks on human rights defenders, and pushback against multilateral institutions, including this Council. It is therefore timely to reflect on what “universality” means, 70 years on, and its applicability to today’s challenges…” – John Fisher, HRW Geneva’s director, said at the United Nations Human Rights Council in February 2018 about the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. (Click to watch video of John Fisher’s full speech, 2:13)
  • Human rights are still at risk all around the world. Examples include:

Take Action

  • Submit an entry for the “Picture Human Rights” National Contest based on the Universal Declaration to celebrate its 70th Anniversary. STF has joined HRE USA (a national network of human rights education advocates) to host this competition. Learn more.
  • The UN is calling on everyone to make a difference through promotion, engagement, and reflection:
    • Promote: Raise awareness of what the UDHR means in everyday life and show how it empowers us all.
    • Engage: Join us in expressing your commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
    • Reflect: Take stock of the state of human rights today and reflect how each of us can stand up for rights, every day.
  • Read your #RightsOutLoud and add your audio recording to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Multilingual Video Collection.

Videos and Visuals

UDHR at 70: The History (6:07)

UDHR at 70: Perspective (3:58)

Where Do Human Rights Begin? (0:36)

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