On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The anniversary of this influential document has been observed around the world in subsequent years as Human Rights Day, including since 1949 in the United States by presidential proclamation. The UN’s Human Rights Day 2010 page profiles “human rights defenders” who are working to end discrimination from Mongolia, to Lesotho, to Chile. There is also a short quiz to test your historical human rights acumen.
More than 60 years after the declaration’s adoption, human rights violations remain a major international concern. Non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on a variety of topical issues, and also provide access to news and commentary for particular countries and/or regions. Additional human rights NGOs around the world can be located through resources listed in the Perkins Library’s NGO research guide, including Associations Unlimited, a searchable online version of the Encyclopedia of Associations (which can also be found in print in the Law Library’s reference collection).
Information about the history and impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog with a search for the subject keywords "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". The library’s large collection of materials on human rights can be located with a subject keyword search for "human rights". You can further narrow your search results by a specific country (for example, “human rights – burma”). For further help with researching human rights law and history, be sure to Ask a Librarian.