Human rights | 10.12.2023

2023 Human Rights Day - 75th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Time for Human Rights is Now”

On 10 December 2023, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first legal document to enshrine the inherent et inalienable rights of ALL human beings, turns 75.

In Article 1 [1], the UDHR proclaims an essential promise that reflects the commitment and the vision of the modern human rights movement: the equal dignity and worth of every person, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Under the UDHR, every human being counts, in an equal way, and all human rights are universal and inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated.

In our current global context, with large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses ongoing across the world and causing so much human suffering, there seems to be an unbridgeable gap between the vision of the UDHR and our reality. It would be easy to be discouraged, to feel powerless, and to give in to the temptation to conclude that the hope that universal human rights represent is only empty rhetoric.

Yet, the legacy, the relevance, and the activism of the UDHR continue to inspire countless movements, initiatives, and struggles in search of a broader, stronger and more effective and inclusive recognition of equal rights for all in law and in practice. Hundreds of tireless and brave human rights defenders– whose dedicated Declaration on Human Rights Defenders turned 30 earlier this year – including many of our colleagues around the world, relentlessly continue to creatively and bravely advocate for the transformative role of human rights, too often in the face of challenging circumstances and despite personal and professional risks. Their outstanding commitment and courage are both an inspiration and an invitation to follow their path.

We are therefore specially thinking of them today as we join the international community to commemorate the 2023 Human Rights Day and renew our commitment to “defend the defenders” and contribute to the protection of human rights to ensure that  the UDHR - a milestone document in the history of human rights – remains a living document.

In spite of, or perhaps, especially because of the undoubtedly challenging times the world faces, the UIA-IROL echoes today the call of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to “[together] rejuvenate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, demonstrate how it can meet the needs of our time AND advance its promise of freedom, equality and justice for all”.

As lawyers and members of the international legal community, we are called today to gather and mobilize to find ways to translate into renewed concrete actions our pledge to promote human rights and the Rule of Law. The UIA-IROL commits once again to continue to offer a platform for discussion, awareness-raising, and brainstorming to rekindle the spirit of the UDHR as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.

Let’s start building together the future of human rights.


Find out more about the 2023 Human Rights Day and the Human Rights 75 initiative

Watch “Time for Human Rights is Now”


[1] “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.