The 2015 observance of Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign marking the 50th anniversary of the two international covenants on human rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the U.N. announced.
“Communication rights are reflected in the covenant on civil and political rights in the form of freedom of speech and expression,” noted WACC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter. “They are an essential part of human rights and a key to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The international covenants were adopted by the General Assembly on Dec. 16, 1966. The year-long anniversary campaign is titled "Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." and seeks to raise awareness of the two covenants.
The covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birthright of all human beings.
The campaign notes that the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.
For more on this year's theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office.
Human Rights Day commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly invited all states and interested organizations to observe Dec. 10 of each year as Human Rights Day.
Freedom of expression is found in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.