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The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day. More info: http://www.un.org/en/events/televisionday/

Universal Children’s Day was established by the United Nations in 1954 to encourage understanding between children and promote children’s welfare around the world. It is held on 20 November, the same day the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

© UNICEF UK Education

These Rights are simplified in a beautiful book produced by Unicef called “For Every Child”.

This beautifully illustrated 40 page paperback book, with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, features a drawing by a well-known children’s illustrator.

You can buy copies direct from Unicef.

Click to download a PDF version of For Every Child.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2012

Building tolerance and understanding is fundamental for the twenty-first century.  In an increasingly globalized world – in which societies are growing more diverse – tolerance is central to living together. 

Yet tolerance is being tested.  In the face of economic and social pressures, some seek to exploit fears and highlight differences to stoke hatred of minorities, immigrants and the disadvantaged.  To counter the rise of ignorance, extremism and hate-based political appeals, the moderate majority must speak up for shared values and against all forms of discrimination.

Our goal must be more than peaceful coexistence.  True tolerance requires the free flow of ideas, quality education for all, respect for human rights, and the sharing of cultures for mutual understanding. As we advance these values, let us draw strength and guidance from the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

Tolerance is both a condition of peace and an engine for creativity and innovation. In our evermore interconnected world, promoting tolerance is the way to build the  harmony we need to address pressing challenges and secure a better future. 

Ban Ki-moon

How Can Intolerance Be Countered?

  1. Fighting intolerance requires law:
    Each Government is responsible for enforcing human rights laws, for banning and punishing hate crimes and discrimination against minorities, whether these are committed by State officials, private organizations or individuals. The State must also ensure equal access to courts, human rights commissioners or ombudsmen, so that people do not take justice into their own hands and resort to violence to settle their disputes.
  2. Fighting intolerance requires education:
    Laws are necessary but not sufficient for countering intolerance in individual attitudes. Intolerance is very often rooted in ignorance and fear: fear of the unknown, of the other, other cultures, nations, religions. Intolerance is also closely linked to an exaggerated sense of self-worth and pride, whether personal, national or religious. These notions are taught and learned at an early age. Therefore, greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating more and better. Greater efforts need to be made to teach children about tolerance and human rights, about other ways of life. Children should be encouraged at home and in school to be open-minded and curious.

    Education is a life-long experience and does not begin or end in school. Endeavours to build tolerance through education will not succeed unless they reach all age groups, and take place everywhere: at home, in schools, in the workplace, in law-enforcement and legal training, and not least in entertainment and on the information highways.

  3. Fighting intolerance requires access to information:
    Intolerance is most dangerous when it is exploited to fulfil the political and territorial ambitions of an individual or groups of individuals. Hatemongers often begin by identifying the public’s tolerance threshold. They then develop fallacious arguments, lie with statistics and manipulate public opinion with misinformation and prejudice. The most efficient way to limit the influence of hatemongers is to develop policies that generate and promote press freedom and press pluralism, in order to allow the public to differentiate between facts and opinions.
  4. Fighting intolerance requires individual awareness:
    Intolerance in a society is the sum-total of the intolerance of its individual members. Bigotry, stereotyping, stigmatizing, insults and racial jokes are examples of individual expressions of intolerance to which some people are subjected daily. Intolerance breeds intolerance. It leaves its victims in pursuit of revenge. In order to fight intolerance individuals should become aware of the link between their behavior and the vicious cycle of mistrust and violence in society. Each one of us should begin by asking: am I a tolerant person? Do I stereotype people? Do I reject those who are different from me? Do I blame my problems on ‘them’?
  5. Fighting intolerance requires local solutions:
    Many people know that tomorrow’s problems will be increasingly global but few realize that solutions to global problems are mainly local, even individual. When confronted with an escalation of intolerance around us, we must not wait for governments and institutions to act alone. We are all part of the solution. We should not feel powerless for we actually posses an enormous capacity to wield power. Nonviolent action is a way of using that power-the power of people. The tools of nonviolent action-putting a group together to confront a problem, to organize a grassroots network, to demonstrate solidarity with victims of intolerance, to discredit hateful propaganda-are available to all those who want to put an end to intolerance, violence and hatred.

“Let us work together to balance the global economy and build a new social contract for the 21st century. Let us chart a development path that leads to greater social justice and the future we want.” 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the 2012 World Day of Social Justice

Social justice

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.

 

We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

 

We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

 

For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.

 

The General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.

 

As we look to the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, we have a chance to rethink development strategies and business practices so that they point us toward a more sustainable and equitable future. Sustainability depends on building markets that do a better job of spreading the benefits of development. It means meeting growing consumer demand for greener products and services. And it means laying the foundations for dignity, stability and opportunity for all. As we strive to make this transformation, we must integrate social inclusion into our policies and other efforts.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main UN rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observance of Human Rights Day.
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This year, millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. They took to the streets and demanded change. Many found their voices using the internet and instant messaging to inform, inspire and mobilize supporters to seek their basic human rights. Social media helped activists organize peaceful protest movements in cities across the globe – from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York – at times in the face of violent repression.

Human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. As a global community we all share a day in common: Human Rights Day on 10 December, when we remember the creation 63 years ago of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On Human Rights Day 2011, we pay tribute to all human rights defenders and ask you to get involved in the global human rights movement.

Visit CelebrateHumanRights.org and make a wish.

“We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.”

We the Children: End-decade review of the follow-up
to the World Summit for Children
Report of the Secretary-General (2001)

children at school

Primary school children in class, in Harar, Ethiopia. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

By resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

In 2000 world leaders outlined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Though the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. UNICEF notes that six of the eight goals relate directly to children and meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives.