Human Rights Day: Standing up for human rights on this historic day

Stories | December 10, 2019
Legs and feet

Learn about the Canadian connection of this historic awareness day, and how you can support organizations working to advance human rights in Canada and globally. 

The UN Declaration of Human Rights established that regardless of our walks of life, our background, race, or religion, we are all  “equal in dignity and rights.” This December 10th, a day to honour the Declaration, the UN is calling on youth in particular to look beyond ending discrimination and to strengthen their participation in creating change. The request to young generations is to #StandUpforHumanRights on issues such as bullying, which one-third of teens say they now experience in person or online. 

It’s an inspiring message that calls upon young people to look at how they can contribute to creating change. It’s something that really can apply to everyone. We all have something we want to change in the world. 

Education is a fundamental first step: Knowing one’s rights and the rights of others is the starting point for being able to speak to protecting or improving access to those rights. And, these lessons can translate into how we relate to the world around us. 

According to the Canadian organization Equitas, “human rights education encourages youth to consider how they interact with others and how they might change their behaviour to better reflect human rights values.” 

How did Human Rights Day begin? 

December 10th is a day to honour the adoption and proclamation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights. This landmark document provided a framework for the global protection of all people’s political, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights. While it lacked the weight of the law, it instigated the adoption of human rights treaties and declarations among 60 nations.

Interestingly, the UN Declaration (now the most translated document in the world) has a very direct Canadian connection. John Peters Humphrey was a Canadian legal scholar who turned down an offer to serve as Dean of McGill University. Instead, in 1946, he took on an appointment as the very first Director of the UN Division of Human Rights. He played a major role in drawing up the UN Declaration of Human Rights, also shepherding it through to adoption. Ahead of his time in 1963, he proposed the establishment of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, although it would actually take another 30 years to happen. 

Supporting human rights today

Today, there are a number of registered Canadian charities working to advance human rights domestically and internationally. Out of the more than 85,000 registered charities plus private foundations available to give to through the Charitable Impact platform, around 2.2% focus on the cause of human rights (1,967 in total).  

According to recent research by Charitable Impact, organizations focusing on human rights receive a small portion of the total revenue within the Canadian charitable sector. They are among a group of causes that receives 0.2% of total revenue, and that also includes charities categorized as supporting causes related to youth, environment, and animals. 

If you’d like to give to support human rights or any other cause, we are here to support you. Through Charitable Impact’s online giving platform, you can give to any of the over 85,000 registered charities across Canada. By setting up a free Impact Account, our powerful search engine will connect you to charities — from familiar favourites to new discoveries. Plus, get recommendations through your account. You can add funds to your account, take the time and space needed to plan your impact, and then send gifts to the causes you care about. 


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