A selection of posters that highlight different rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published on December 10, 72 years ago
The right to life, private property, and the use of your mother tongue. The right to work, education, digital inclusion, and housing. The right to fair and equitable treatment by the State, to a better distribution of income, to be able to consume and participate in the economy, to enjoy social security.
The 30 articles –plus a preamble– that make up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a historic civilizing landmark published by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, contain some of the basic principles that have guided –or should guide– human and social relations since the Enlightenment.
Since these rights are often not respected, each year the celebration of International Human Rights Day, instituted in 1950, has a markedly vindictive character. And, for some time now, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has begun to propose official themes each year. This 2020, for example, the slogan is Recover Better - Stand up for Human Rights.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the UN and several countries were launching postage stamps to mark this day. Over time, posters and banners (whether official or created independently by artists from around the world) became popular, graphically capturing the spirit of this day of reflection and awareness.
Below are some good examples of posters created at different times to celebrate International Human Rights Day.
1. The 2020 campaign
This poster illustrates the post-Covid 19 recovery and the need to unite under the banner of human rights threatened worldwide.
Artist and illustrator Rupert García created this poster against torture–a practice still widespread in many countries–for Amnesty International US in 1976. "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," reads one sentence printed on the piece.
Created by Brazilian graphic designer Rico Lins, this poster has a message so powerful it barely has a word on it. Three years since its publication, it remains as relevant as ever.
4. Homage to France
This poster was created in 1989 by Japanese graphic design master Shigeo Fukuda who also worked as a sculptor and designer of historical medals and posters. It celebrates the bicentennial of the French Revolution, whose slogan of freedom, equality, and fraternity inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a century and a half later.
5. Hands – lots of them
Inspired by a socialist aesthetic, with raised fists symbolizing the struggle and active demand for space and equality, Human Rights Day posters often depict raised hands, arms, and fists. Some examples above: from the 20th anniversary of the Declaration, in 1968, through the beginnings of the fight for LGBTQI+, in the 1980s, to the modern day battle against racism.
6. Another historical reference
The white dove, a symbol of peace, was drawn on several posters throughout the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, when the struggle for human rights was inextricably linked to the end of armed conflict. The latter, for Amnesty International, has been created by none other than Pablo Picasso.
7. A new symbol
In 2011, a new symbol for International Human Rights Day was launched in New York. Created by Serbian graphic designer Predrag Stakić, it is an obvious and elegant combination of the pictorial elements most associated with the date: hands and the dove of peace.
8. New struggles
In 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights launched an international poster competition. Among the dozens of winners, some stand out for their brilliantly simple, powerful, and urgent messaging: voices united against racism; protection of immigrants; the right to love freely; and the urgent reminder that we all have rights from birth.
Recommended book: Posters for Change: Tear, Paste, Protest
"Posters for Change" is a powerful collection that encapsulates the spirit of protest and the art of persuasion. This book is more than just a visual treat; it's a call to action, showcasing over 50 detachable posters designed by various artists. Each page resonates with messages advocating for social and environmental issues, reflecting the global voice of change. It's an invitation to engage actively in the dialogue of reform and make a tangible impact. The book not only serves as a gallery of contemporary design but also as a toolkit for activists and art enthusiasts, inspiring them to tear, paste, and protest for a better world.