Take a closer look at some of the events and stories taking place across the world to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Did you know?

Did you know?

23 November 2017

From Abkhaz (a language spoken by 13,000 in a north-western corner of Georgia) to Zulu (a language spoken by more than 10 million in southern Africa), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a truly global document. And, with more than 500 translations, it also holds the Guinness Book World Records title of the most translated document in the world.

But how did such a document come to be so widely translated? According to UN Human Rights Officer Elena Ippoliti, who started the translation project, gathering together all existing versions was a contribution to the UDHR universal significance.

“This project was meant to be a message of unity within diversity – fostering the sense of our common humanity embodied in the UDHR while embracing and valuing our diversity,” she said.

The UDHR translation project began in 1995 in the framework of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). At the time, all existing copies of the UDHR started to be collected and digitized. The project received a boost in 1998, when the 50th anniversary of the UDHR increased publicity for this work and space was added on the web to house the various digital translations of the Declaration coming in.

“The UDHR provides essential content for human rights education, as it sets in a concise manner the rights belonging to all human beings, and its inspiring words encourage action for human rights.” Ippoliti said. “This is why the global dissemination of the UDHR was one of the main objectives of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education.”

In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records declared the UDHR to be the most translated document in the world. Today, with 505 translations, it still is. One of the most remote languages the Declaration was translated into was Pipil, an almost extinct language spoken in El Salvador by less than 50, mainly elderly, people. “Translating the document was a way to preserve the culture.” Ippoliti said. “The multiple translations show the enduring appeal and influence of the UDHR” she said.

“ In my own experience, it was the casual but enlightening reading of the Universal Declaration on an Amnesty International leaflet, some 30 years ago, that prompted me to learn more about human rights and, ultimately, to work in this field,” she said.

Interested in what languages the UDHR is translated exists? Check out UDHR translation page.

  • I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you
  • When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone's rights are undermined, so I will stand up
  • I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.

people have stood up for human rights

We can all be Human Rights Champions

Tweet, Instagram or YouTube your action using the hashtag #Standup4humanrights.

Spread the word