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Remembering human rights defenders
Human Rights Day is celebrated each year on 10 December, the day in 1948 on which the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This seminal document is the first and most famous global expression of human rights. It has inspired over 70 binding human rights treaties and has been translated into some 360 languages.
The theme for Human Rights Day 2010 is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination. These courageous individuals speak out against abuse and violations including discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. They advocate justice and seek to protect the victims of human rights violations. They demand accountability for perpetrators and transparency in government action.
Some human rights defenders are famous, but most are not. They are active in every part of the world, working alone and in groups, in local communities, in national politics and internationally. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, who was unable to attend today's prize-giving ceremony and whose wife and associates were also prevented from attending, is a sad and timely reminder of the challenges and risks faced by human rights defenders and their families everywhere in the world.