In light of its mandate, the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission celebrates Human Rights Day today, December 10, 2020. Today marks the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10, 1948. Since its signing, the document has served as the basis of the Constitutional Bill of Rights in almost every country around the world, making it one of the most significant documents in the history of humanity.
Following the atrocities of World War II, the United Nations conceived the idea of a document that would espouse the basic freedoms every human should enjoy. The UDHR was then drafted for almost two years. It was ratified at the United Nations’ General Assembly at Palais de Challiot, Paris in 1948. Of the 58 member states of the time, 48 voted in its favour, 8 abstained, and 2 did not cast their votes.
With the acknowledgement of several world-leading nations, the Declaration eventually led to the formulation of the International Bill of Human Rights. The UDHR has influenced several laws on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
The Philippines was one of the 48 member states that voted for the UDHR 72 years ago. Early on, the Philippine government placed importance on the celebration of Human Rights Day. 2020 year marks the 70th year of its commemoration in the country as ordered by Elpidio Quirino through Proclamation No. 225, series 1950. In 2003, Republic Act 9201 or the National Human Rights Consciousness Week Act of 2002 was enacted into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Historical fact, however, reminds us of how easily we can forget and lose our rights. Despite this, our own national history has proven that collectively remembering the atrocities of the past protects the future.This Human Rights Day, the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission invites everyone to celebrate with us by re-reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. #WeRemember so we do not forget to #StandUpForHumanRights.