Tuesday marks the 69th annual Human Rights Day which celebrates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as put forth by the United Nations in 1948. This year's theme for the celebration is "Youth Standing Up for Human Rights."
In a statement, the United Nations said it wants to "celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights."
"We have a duty to ensure young people's voices are heard," read a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. "All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives. In order to ensure more effective decision-making, and to build greater trust and harmony across their nations, the leaders of every society should be listening to their people—and acting in accordance with their needs and demands."
Bachelet placed an emphasis on youth activism regarding climate change. "It is particularly fitting this year that we mark Human Rights Day during the crucial U.N. conference in Madrid to uphold climate justice," Bachelet wrote.
"Rightly, these young people are pointing out that it is their future which is at stake, and the future of all those who have not yet even been born," Bachelet continued. "It is they who will have to bear the full consequences of the actions, or lack of action, by the older generations who currently run governments and businesses, the decision-makers on whom the future of individual countries, regions and the planet as whole depends."
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed Bachelet's sentiments concerning young activists in a video.
"Globally, young people are marching, organizing and speaking out for the right to a healthy environment, for the equal right of women and girls, to participate in decision making and to express their opinions freely," Guterres said. "They are marching for their right to a future of peace, justice and equal opportunities."
On this International Day," he concluded, "I call on everyone to support and protect young people who are standing up for human rights."
Well-known landmarks will make a visual note of Human Rights Day by lighting their building facades blue according to the Human Rights Watch organization, which organizes the display. The Empire State Building in New York, the London Eye in the United Kingdom and the International Towers in Sydney, Australia are all expected to join in this event, along with 14 other structures around the world.
Kyodo News reported that Hong Kong, a city already wracked with violent protests, celebrated Human Rights Day on Sunday. Uncharacteristically, the protest was authorized by the Hong Kong police. Protesters used the event to exchange Christmas cards.
While organizers reported a turnout of 800,000 people, police claimed only 183,000 were in attendance. The protest was reported to be peaceful.