Alberta Human Rights Information Service December 4, 2013

Human Rights Day is December 10, 2013: 20 Years: Working for Your Rights

December 10, 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the United Nations' signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. For the first time in history, the Declaration set out fundamental human rights to be universally protected and provided a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations.

This year's theme, 20 Years: Working for Your Rights, celebrates 20 years since the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was created as a result of a recommendation from delegates of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Following the World Conference, in December 1993, the United Nations General Assembly created the mandate of the High Commissioner: the promotion and protection of all human rights.

During the Vienna +20 Conference in June of this year, Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, underscored the importance of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action by reiterating in her keynote speech that it: "crystallized the principle that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and firmly entrenched the notion of universality by committing States to the promotion and protection of all human rights for all people 'regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.'" You can also read the conference report.

Many advances have been made globally in human rights over the past 20 years in the areas of peace and security, human rights treaties, individual complaints mechanisms, human trafficking, and business and human rights, to name a few. Human rights achievements over the past two decades have included upholding the rights of women, people with disabilities, migrants, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, indigenous peoples and minorities.

In Alberta, we strive to ensure that diversity and inclusion are valued and human rights principles are reflected in our systems, policies, attitudes and behaviours. Visit the Commission's website for information on your rights and responsibilities under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the programs and services of the Commission.

Read more about UN Human Rights Day 2013. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Storify, Google+ and YouTube.

Human Rights Day events

The Sochi Olympics and International Human Rights (November 28, 2013)
The Honourable Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission,
 spoke at the annual Human Rights Day event hosted by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre at the University of Calgary. The event focused on the Sochi Olympics and the Anti-Gay Propaganda Law. The Chief spoke about the promotion and protection of human rights for all people and how our own laws did not include sexual orientation as one of the protected grounds until 1998.

Celebrating Humanity (December 7, 2013) 
This holiday event will include special ceremonies to honour community members, a naming ceremony, a traditional round dance, a feast and drummers
to celebrate life, community and humanity. This event is hosted by the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative in partnership with the Calgary Police Service, Henry Wise Wood High School and the Alberta Human Rights Commission and is open to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members.

The Gall Conference (December 10, 2013) 
In memory of the late Gerald L. Gall, this year's Gall Conference  will examine the state of economic rights in Alberta, exploring issues of poverty, homelessness, economic development and employment. The Honourable Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, will participate in a panel discussion, The Right to Work: Employment for Persons Living with a Disability.

Following the conference, the annual Human Rights Awards will take place to honour individuals, groups and organizations who are working hard to promote human rights in Edmonton. The keynote speaker, Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada and former MLA for Edmonton-Glenora, will discuss the demographics of inmates in Canadian penitentiaries and highlight issues that relate to Aboriginal people, women and mental health.

Read more about these events as well as other events held throughout Alberta to celebrate Human Rights Day.


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