By the President of the United States of America
On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution of the United States. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Marking these anniversaries together gives us an opportunity to renew our dedication both to our own liberties and to the promotion of human rights everywhere.
The Bill of Rights carries with it an implied responsibility for the governed as well as for the governing. No American citizen can rest satisfied until the Bill of Rights is a living reality for every person in the United States, irrespective of race, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin. We cannot simply rely on the decency of government or the alertness of an active free press. Each individual must shoulder his or her share of the responsibility for seeing that our freedoms will survive.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the cornerstone of a developing international consensus on human rights. Through it, the members of the United Nations undertake to promote, respect and observe human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without discrimination. We must continuously monitor the progress of this effort and the records of governments around the world.
The promise of the Declaration is remote to all those who suffer summary executions and torture, acts of genocide, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, banishment, internal exile, forced labor, and confinement for political cause. It is remote to the countless refugees who flee their lands in response to the elimination of their human rights. It is remote to those subjected to armed invasions or to military coups that destroy democratic processes. The Declaration will ring hollow to that segment of a population discriminated against by laws of apartheid or by restrictions on religious freedom. It will ring hollow to those threatened by violations of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement, and by the suppression of trade unions.
The Declaration must also ring hollow to the members of the U.S. Embassy staff who have been held captive for more than a year by the Government of Iran.
The cause of human rights is embattled throughout the world. Recent events make it imperative that we, as Americans, stand firm in our insistence that the values embodied in the Bill of Rights, and contained in the Universal Declaration, be enjoyed by all.
I urge all Americans to support ratification of the Genocide Convention, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights. I renew my request to the Senate to give its advice and consent to these important treaties.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 10, 1980, as Human Rights Day and December 15, 1980, as Bill of Rights Day, and call on all Americans to observe Human Rights Week beginning December 10, 1980. It should be a time set apart for the study of our own rights, so basic to the working of our society, and for a renewal of our efforts on behalf of the human rights of all peoples everywhere.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of
November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 12:15 p.m., November 14, 1980]