In 1948, the world was still in shock after World War Two. The conflict had involved 30 countries and taken 85 million causalities. An estimated six million had been murdered in the Holocaust. Political leaders were determined it should never happen again.
A team of people from around the world gathered to create a list of universal human rights. The idea was that each one of us – no matter who we are – is entitled to the same basic rights and freedoms. That may sound simple, but the team worked for nearly three years to come up with a complete list.
Finally, on 10 December 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt (former First Lady of the US and a political figure and activist in her own right) read out the new Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It began: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Now, 10 December is marked all over the world as Human Rights Day and an opportunity to celebrate peace.
But while the Declaration is recognised globally, there are still countries and individuals that do not grant people the rights they deserve. Over 40 million people live in slavery; millions face discrimination for religious beliefs, and the UN reports growing racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred.
How will you celebrate and fight for human rights this week?
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This week’s tailor-made assembly slides explore the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN. Ready to use with examples from recent news stories, the assembly challenges and questions the concept of human rights itself.
- One of the freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is “freedom of expression”. On a piece of paper, write down what you think this means and why it is important.
- Research a famous person from history who was influential in fighting for an important human right. Create a short presentation about their life.