The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, in response to the events of World War II and ongoing colonialism.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) contains 30 articles on human rights that encompass a wide range of basic rights. These include the right to form and join trade unions, the right to be free of discrimination based on sex, race and other protected grounds, as well as the right to health, education and equality, among other fundamental rights. These rights are key to binding us together as workers and as a global community.

The declaration remains as relevant today as it was seven decades ago. The pandemic uncovered deep-seated inequalities in Canada and across the globe, leading to calls for human rights-centred response and recovery measures. Women, Black, Indigenous and racialized people, persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQI+ people were more likely to be struggling in the face of the pandemic.

Human rights must be centred during recovery efforts in a post-COVID-19 world on the basis of equality and non-discrimination so that all workers can move forward together.

CUPE’s long-standing commitment to human rights recognizes that human rights struggles are deeply interconnected with workers’ rights struggles, and that we share common goals with community movements for gender, racial and social justice. Working in coalition and mobilizing in our communities is the most effective way to achieve change and the realization of equity and respect for human rights.

Learn more about the declaration, and about this year’s theme for Human Rights Day.

Actions you can take include:

  • Learn more and educate others with CUPE’s resources on Indigenous, disability, 2SLGBTQI+, anti-racism and women’s issues.
  • Learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its history. Find out more about events being held around the world.
  • Invite a human rights expert to speak to members of your local at a virtual or in-person conference.
  • Recognize someone in your local union or community who has contributed to improving human rights.
  • Form a committee on human rights in your local.
  • Join local actions against racism, colonialism, homophobia, transphobia, gender-based violence, ableism and other forms of discrimination and violence.