Human Rights Day +60

Adopted on the 10th December 1948 which we now mark as Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into more than 360 languages, and for all people it captures their aspirations whenever and wherever injustice faces them.

Download The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (308kb pdf)

What they say about the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dr Hans Blix

“Dignity and justice for us all” is the United Nations theme for this year’s commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We welcome its emphasis on universality – for as the most translated document in the world (over 350 languages) the Declaration expresses both our global cultural diversity and our common humanity. The World Federation of United Nations Associations – a peoples’ movement to support the UN - is conducting educational programs and outreach activities, to help ensure that everyone, everywhere knows how to promote and protect human rights. 
Dr Hans Blix, President, World Federation of United Nations Associations 

Also, read here (118kb pdf) the lecture given by Dr Blix at the 6th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture.

David Roosevelt

(grandson of Eleanor Roosevelt, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission) The message of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Know Your Rights; a vital slogan when considering how few are aware of the birthrights accorded all people. The Declaration sets the standard for achievement of everyone’s human rights, and yet so few have actually read this very simple document. Translated into more than 360 languages, it has provided encouragement and the moral basis for successful popular uprisings against numerous oppressive regimes. Your work and the impressive array of activities you and your branches are planning for this celebration year are extremely important in spreading the message. I commend you for your dedication and efforts. Please remember, human rights are everyone’s business, and your commitment is essential to the futures of so many abused men, women, and children the world over!

60th Anniversary Concert

60th Anniversary Concert
Friday 4 July, 7.30pm
Tickets £15, £12, £8 (concessions £6)
Box Office 020 7222 1061
St. John’s, Smith Square London, SW1

See the programme (33kb pdf)

Libor Novacek, Piano

Performing works by Haydn, Brahms and Liszt 
“Libor Novacek performs Liszt with an exceptional poetic verve and inwardness” 

Read about Libor Novacek

Voces8 a capella, from Gibbons to Gershwin

“ exhilarating freshness of sound, unanimity of ensemble and superb diction”
International Record Review

See Voces8 official website 
Hear “Steal Away” (on YouTube)
Hear “Mack the Knife” (on YouTube)

“How the Universal Declaration was won!”

A 15 minute play written for this occasion imagines a chance encounter between Eleanor Roosevelt and others who were key to the successful adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Meeting six years later, at the height of the Cold War, they are disillusioned. Might the principles they fought for never be realised? A play of reflections and revelations. 

Concert organisers
United Nations Association, Westminster Branch

"How the Universal Declaration was won!" The play

“The United Nations. Eleven architects. Thirty eight floors. Sixty members, half speaking Spanish. And a lot of problems!”

The opening words of “How the Universal Declaration was won”, a 20 minute play written for six actors and audience to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It imagines Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), Rene Cassin (France), Charles Malik (Lebanon) and P C Chang (China), the close-knit group on the Declaration’s drafting committee, meeting up by chance in the new United Nations building in June, 1954 to hear the first ringing of the Japanese Peace Bell. Together with Dr John Humphrey, Director of the UN Human Rights Division, they share their thoughts,
“John Dulles says that the Declaration we put together was America’s Sermon on the Mount - and then aims it at the Soviets”

and sometimes question each other:
“I listened to you speak at a public meeting, Mrs Roosevelt. They came to hear your voice but they heard a speech written by the State Dept, 99% devoted to attacking the Soviets.”

At the time of their meeting, paranoia and inaction at the UN are rife
“This mad rush by Senator McCarthy to accuse people in government of communism has forced us into searching for reds under every bed ”

And they recollect the challenges they faced together in 1948.
“...and then suddenly the Brazilians said the wording should be created in the image of and likeness of God, we are endowed with reason and conscience.”

“Everybody talked of Rights. At the start, we did think we should add duties. That’s why some likened the Declaration to the Ten Commandments.”

A janitor plays the Common Man who knows everything; what happened 1948 and in 1954 and what the future holds which he shares with them sparingly. But even he can be surprised as when reminded that the first country to vote for the Declaration was Burma. Was it true?

The play ends with the historic and tense vote in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Here, the audience play the roles of the voting states in UN General Assembly Resolution 217 (III) on an ‘International Bill of Human Rights’. The final ninety seconds of the play are accompanied by an audio track simulating the great assembly hall. It can be performed or read through by civil society groups and is an ideal partner for discussion on this important issue.

The play was first performed at a concert to mark the anniversary, held in London on 4 July 2008. It was written by David Wardrop and John Peters of the Westminster (UK) branch of the United Nations Association. See

The package can be obtained by e-mail on a single Zip File which comprises:

The Play, complete with synopsis, director’s guidance notes and character guides, pdf

Unique reproduction of the Declaration, taken from the 1948 Year Book, showing other critical decisions taken by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, pdf

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Universal Declaration, high resolution jpeg

Graphics for use in final scene, suitable for large scale print, pdf

Audience Voting Guidance, pdf

Audience voting cards for all countries, pdf

Audio clip for final 90 seconds, MP3 file

What next?
1] e-mail requesting the zip file and invoice

2] Indicate in your e-mail
a) the identity of the organisation that will use the file
b) that it will not be passed to other organisations. Rather, please encourage them to follow you. We will trust you.

3] We send you the Zip File and you get started.

4] You print the invoice and mail it with payment for £12; US$20; Can$20 to the address in your own country indicated on the invoice.

For further information, contact

UNA Westminster
61 Sedlescombe Road
London SW6 1RE
+44 (0) 20 7385 6738

UK Events

The London Regional Council of the United Nations Association will co-ordinate a range of activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Soon, we will introduce a sign-up facility to ensure you know what is happening and where.

14th December 2008
Human Rights Civic Sunday
Ellesmere Port Civic Hall. A flower laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial plaque will be followed by speeches, readings and music relating to human rights. The Mayor will sign a facsimile of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on behalf of the community and there will be an exhibition of artwork and images. Contact Collette Linford, See

29th October 2008
UDHR60 Anniversary events The Law School, University of Kent, Canterbury
A programme of lectures, drama performances, speeches by human rights activists and renowned scholars and members of civic society, to rededicate their communities to the principles underpinning the UDHR. The winner of the essay competition will be announced on the day of the celebration (Essay Topic: “New Rights and New Wrongs: Finding new Relevance for the UDHR in the 21st Century”).

Contact: Dr. Gbenga Oduntan, Centre for Critical International Law, Kent Law School

24th October 2008
Human Rights Celebration Dinner
Assembly Room, The Council House, North Street, Chichester (tickets £20)
Guest of Honour: Andrew Tyrie MP
Featuring the UN Roadshow
Organised by Chichester & District United Nations Association For more information, see

19th October 2008
UDHR 60th anniversary event
St. Andrews Church, Farnham, Surrey
Art exhibition by local schools, drama, poetry.
Speakers include Natalie Samarasinghe, United Nations Association
Contact: Jenny Floyer 01252 714946

16th October 2008
Human Rights Now conference
London Metropolitan University