Secretary of StateWashington, DC
December 10, 2015
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was forged in the aftermath of World War II to protect freedom and prevent future atrocities. As we commemorate it today, we recall President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedoms address, which inspired the Universal Declaration, and which the United Nations selected as this year’s theme for International Human Rights Day.
The “four freedoms” – of speech and religion, from want and fear – are as relevant and compelling today as they were when Roosevelt spoke almost three quarters of a century ago.
Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
This year’s Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50t hanniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.
“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.
- Facts and figures about the two Covenants
- Human Rights Day 2015 – Q&A
- 12/9/16 Presidential Proclamation — Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, 2016
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–292, as amended by Public Law 106–55, Public Law 106–113, Public Law 107–228, Public Law 108–332, and Public Law 108–458) was passed to promote religious freedom as a foreign policy of the United States, and to advocate on the behalf of the individuals viewed as persecuted in foreign countries on the account of religion. The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 27, 1998. Three cooperative entities have been maintained by this act to monitor religious persecution.
- An Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the Department of State,
- A bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and
- A Special Adviser on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council.
While the original bill imposed mandatory sanctions on the countries supporting religious persecution, the amended act offers the president a waiverprovision if he feels that it would further the goal of the bill or promote the interests of U.S. national security not to impose measures on a designated country.