Skip to main content
Elders Statements

The Elders launch the Every Human Has Rights campaign

Share this:

To begin the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Elders and partners launch a campaign for one billion people around the world to pledge their support for fundamental rights and freedoms.

To begin the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), The Elders and partners today launched the Every Human Has Rights campaign to empower global citizens to protect the first ever comprehensive agreement on human rights among nations.

The Every Human Has Rights campaign calls on citizens to uphold the goals of the Universal Declaration in their daily lives and to hold governments accountable for the same. Through this effort, one billion people around the world will sign the Universal Declaration, taking responsibility and pledging to speak out to protect the freedom and rights of others in their communities.

“Today, we remind people around the world that there are universal values we all share and universal rights to which every individual is entitled,” Archbishop Tutu, Chair of The Elders said. “We launch this campaign to create an atmosphere in which no person, government, or entity can deny freedom and liberty for any human. By calling on individuals to sign the Universal Declaration, we are asking the citizens of the global village to empower themselves and their communities by standing behind its values and goals. But we are also asking that one united human family join together to protect and defend the rights of each other.”

Persistent abuses galvanise human rights icons

The Every Human Has Rights campaign launches at a time of human rights uncertainty around the globe, and will aim to raise awareness, particularly in areas of the world where governments ignore “equal justice, equal opportunity, [and] equal dignity without discrimination,” as voiced by Eleanor Roosevelt, champion of the Universal Declaration 60 years ago.

The Elders, a group of global leaders convened by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel to address some of the major problems facing the world, became the first signatories to the online pledge, as an empty chair draped in orange drew attention to the continued imprisonment of Burmese human rights defender and Elder, Aung San Suu Kyi. The Elders Chair Archbishop Desmond Tutu, members Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and Graça Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development, Mozambique, shared the stage with leaders of human rights organisations to demand respect for the basic human rights agreed to in the UDHR.

An unprecedented, diverse coalition

“The UDHR’s 60th anniversary offers a chance for a global conversation about the values that unite us as one human family,” said Mary Robinson. “But it can be more. It can also be a moment for new visions and actions rooted in the best traditions of our past. 2008 can be a year in which people from every walk of life learn about and reflect on our shared rights. Now a new generation takes on a task to ensure that every human truly does have the rights they deserve – and that every government lives up to an agreement made 60 years ago to deliver those rights.”

Background on UDHR

Signed on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration marked the first time in history that nations came together to agree on basic principles of justice, equality, and rights for all of humanity. Signatories took this action as the world began to confront the devastation in the wake of World War II, the Holocaust, and the use of the atomic bomb.

UDHR has exerted a moral, political and legal influence throughout the world, far beyond the aspirations of its drafters. It has been a primary source of inspiration for all post-war international legislation in the field of human rights. All of the United Nations human rights treaties and resolutions as well as the regional human rights conventions - the European and American conventions and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' rights - have been directly inspired by UDHR.

Campaigning at a critical time

Today, nearly 60 years after its signing, the world is confronted with the need to reaffirm UDHR in the face of abuses across the globe.

“Human rights are not a privilege, they are everyone’s entitlement and it is an indictment of all of us that the rights of women and children are continually trampled on and ignored. So, as we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we now have the opportunity to enforce the Declaration’s principles ensuring that every single woman and every single child enjoys the rights of all human beings,” said Graça Machel.

Additional information

To find out more about the Every Human Rights Campaign, our partners, and the web tools giving voice to people from every corner of the globe, visit

Share this article

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.


I would like to find: