The following calendar is an updated attempt to compile a list of days on which people worldwide commemorate human rights; fighters for rights are honoured, abuses of human rights are remembered and hopes and joy are celebrated. The key dates have been gathered from official UN International Days, World Days recognised by NGOs, anniversaries of historical events and birthdays of some prominent human rights activists. It is not to be taken as a complete or definitive list but as a starting point, and you are encouraged to add your own memorable dates.
The calendar can be copied and made into a poster to hang on the wall to stimulate initial interest in human rights issues, especially as it gives a good indication of their range and variety. Invite people to comment: Do all the events commemorated mean something to them? What local and national key dates would they like to add?
Each activity in Chapter 2 has been assigned a key date. The intention is that the calendar can be used as a tool for developing a year’s human rights education programme. The starting point of each week or month could be a “topical” activity. For example on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, you could do the activity «Front page»,or on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, you could do the activity «Domestic Affairs». Alternatively, the group may wish to “take action” by getting involved in events or activities being organised by other organisations on those dates, for example with an environmental group to celebrate Earth Day on 22 April.
If you want some initial ideas for taking action then look at the «A-Z of Actions» in the All Different – All Equal Education pack. For tips and guidelines on taking effective action read Chapter 3, «Taking action» in this manual.
Just as the understanding of human rights develops every year, so should this calendar. The challenge for you - the users of this manual - is to find new ways of celebrating human rights every single day of the year.


Date Commemoration Information about the date Activity
27 Janurary International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), to honour the victims of the Nazi era. Memory Tags
Second Tuesday of February Safer Internet Day Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people. My life is not a show.
12 February Red Hand Day

Organisations supporting the Global Red Hand Campaign to stop the use of child soldiers include: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Youth Red Cross Germany, Terre des Hommes and Plan International.

Throwing stones
21 February International
Language Day
Since 1999 UNESCO has promoted this day to encourage broad and international commitment to promoting multilingualism and linguistic diversity, including the safeguarding of endangered languages. The language barrier
8 March International Women’s Day International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and
future.The first IWD was in 1911. The UN began observing International Women’s day in 1975.
Path to Equality-land
12 March World Day Against Cyber censorship World Day Against Cyber Censorship was observed on 12 March 2009 at the request of Reporter Without Borders and Amnesty International.  
18 March First Parliamentary election with universal suffrage
in Europe
This was in Finland in 1917. To vote or not to vote
21 March World Poetry Day Declared by UNESCO in 1999. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry.  
21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial
On this day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.  Responding to racism
22 March World Day for Water First formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The observance began in 1993 and aims at promoting awareness of the extent to which water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well-being.  
23 March World Meteorological Day The World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Its work of weather forecasting is important in providing food security, water resources and transport.  
24 March World Tuberculosis Day On this day in 1882 Dr. Robert Koch presented his discovery of the TB bacillus to a group of doctors in Berlin. It was proclaimed an official day in 1992 by WHO.  
2nd Tuesday in April European Equal Pay Day Proclaimed by BPW Europe (Business and Professional Women). Different wages
7 April World Health Day Proclamée en 1950 par l’Organisation mondiale de la santé pour sensibiliser aux souffrances inacceptables de la mère et de l’enfant et aux efforts de tous nécessaires pour préserver la vie et la santé. Juste une
7 April International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Named by the United Nations to commemorate the deaths of over one million people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu, Twa and others who opposed the genocide –systematically killed in less than three months. 7 April 1994 is regarded as the day in which the Genocide began.

8 April World Roma Day The day was officially declared in 1990 to celebrate Romani culture and raise awareness of the issues facing Romani people. Dosta!
23 April World Book and Copyright Day By celebrating this Day UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright. The Day was first celebrated in 1995. Also known as World Book Day.  
24 April

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

24 April 1915 marks the beginning of the genocide when the Ottoman government arrested and murdered hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople (Istanbul). It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a series of massacres and starvation that followed.

28 April World day for Health and Safety at Work Declared by the International Labour Organization (ILO).  
1 May International
Workers Day
Also known as “May Day”. It is a celebration of the International Labour Movement. Trade union meeting
2nd Saturday
in May
World Fair Trade
Declared by the World Fair Trade Organisation. Beware we are watching
3 May World Press Freedom
Declared by UNESCO in 1993 to promote press freedom in the world and to recognise that a free, pluralistic and independent press is an essential component of any democratic society. Front page
5 May Europe Day
(Council of
An annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe. There are two separate designations of Europe Day: 5 May for the Council of Europe and 9 May for the European Union. All equal all different
8 May World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day World Red Cross Day remembers and recognises the efforts of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide. Right’s bingo
8-9 May Remembrance
and Reconciliation
for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the 
Second World
Declared in 2004 by the United Nations General Assembly to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Second World War. Memory tags
15 May International Day of Families Declared in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly to increase awareness of family issues. Work and babies
15 May Journée internationale de l’objection de conscience Proclamée par l’Internationale des résistants à la guerre pour promouvoir les actions non violentes contre les causes de la guerre, et pour soutenir et rassembler les individus dans le monde qui refusent de participer à la guerre ou à sa préparation.  
17 May The International
Day Against
Homophobia and Transphobia
UNAID Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Co-ordinated by the Paris based “IDAHO Committee”. Let’s talk about sex!
17 May World Information
Society Day
Proclaimed by the UN in 2005 to raise global awareness of societal changes brought about by the Internet and new technologies. It also aims to help reduce the Digital divide. Impact of the
21 May World Anti-Terrorism
World Anti-Terrorism Day is to oppose all forms of terrorism and violence. It was initiated in India because “thousands of youth are lured into the folds of terrorist camps and organizations each year.” Terrorism
21 May World Day for
Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and
Proclaimed in 2002 by the UN to protect cultural diversity as a means of achieving prosperity, sustainable development and global peaceful coexistence. Our Futures
22 May International Day for Biological
Proclaimed in 2000 by the UN General Assembly for the promotion of biodiversity issues. The Day was previously observed on 29 December.  
26 May World Challenge
Organised each year by TAFISA (The association for International Sport for All). Communities from around the world compete to motivate as many people as possible to be physically active. Sports for all
28 May European Neighbours
Sponsored by the Council of Europe. The aim is that cities and social housing organisations strengthen local communities by encouraging neighbourhood parties and other similar events. Flowers and rights
29 May International Day of United Nations 
Designated in 2002 by the UN to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of  professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  
31 May World No-Tobacco
Started in 1987 by the WHO to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco to draw global attention to the widespread use of tobacco use and the health risks.  
4 June International
Day of Innocent
Children Victims
of Aggression
Commemorated since 1982 to acknowledge and remind people of the suffering of many children victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse and of the need to protect the rights of children. Do we have alternatives?
5 June World Environment
Established in 1972 by the UN General Assembly to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. Fingers and thumbs
12 June World Day
Against Child
The International Labour Organization launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002. Ashique’s story
17 June World Day to
Combat Desertification
and Drought
Proclaimed in 1995 by the UN to promote awareness of the need for international co-operation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, including implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification.  
20 June World Refugee
Proclaimed in 2000 by the General Assembly to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Can I come in?
23 June United Nations
Public Service Day
Designated by the UN to highlight the contribution of public service in the development process.  
26 June International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking The General Assembly in 1987 decided to observe this day to strengthen action and co-operation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.  
26 June United Nations
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Proclaimed in 1997 by the UN, the day aims at the eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the 1984 Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The day was first observed on 26 June 1987.
Chahal v. UK
1st Saturday
International Day of Co-operatives Proclaimed in 1992 by the UN General Assembly. The date marks the centenary of the International Co-operative Alliance recognising that
co-operatives are an indispensable factor in development.
11 July World Population
Proclaimed in 1989 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.  
18 July Nelson Mandela
International Day
In 2009 the United Nations declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution
to the culture of peace and freedom.
Heroines and heroes
2 August Roma and Sinti
Genocide Remembrance
The date marks the liquidation of the so-called “Gypsy Family Camp” when Nazis murdered almost three thousand men women and children in the Birkenau gas chambers on the night of August 2/3, 1944.  
6 August Hiroshima Day This day remembers the victims of the first atomic bombing in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.  
9 August International Day of Indigenous
Proclaimed in 1994 by the General Assembly to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. Makah whaling
12 August International
Youth Day
Designated in 1999 by the UN to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. Our futures
23 August International Day for the Remembrance
of the Slave Trade and
its Abolition
The day designated by UNESCO to memorialise the transatlantic slave trade. It commemorates the uprising on 23 August 1791, when slaves of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean launched an insurrection which ultimately
led to the Haitian revolution and promoted the cause of human rights.
23 August European Day of Remembrance
for Victims of
Stalinism and
Declared by the European Parliament in 2008.  
8 September International
Literacy Day
Proclaimed by UNESCO, it was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Education for all?
15 September International Day
of Democracy
Proclaimed in 2007 by the UN. Making links
19 September Suffrage day The day in 1893 that New Zealand granted women the right to vote, the first country in the world to implement universal suffrage. Electioneering
21 September International Day
of Peace
Proclaimed in 1981 by the UN General Assembly to be observed as a day of
global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities throughout the Day.
A mosque in Sleepyville
28 September Right to Know
Established by access to information advocates from around the globe. It was first celebrated in 2003 to raise awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information. On the ladder
1st Monday
World Habitat
Day (Cities without slums)
United Nations designated day. First celebrated in 1986. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the state of our cities and towns and the basic human
right to adequate shelter.
Tale of two cities
2nd Wednesday
International Day
for Natural Disaster Reduction
Designated in 2002 by the UN to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Web of life
1 October International Day
of Older Persons
1990 the UN General Assembly established this day to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly and to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society.  
1 October International
Music Day
Initiated in 1975 by the International Music Council to promote music amongst all sections of society.  
2 October International Day
of Non-Violence
The UN International Day of Non-Violence promotes non-violence through education and public awareness. It coincides with Indian leader,
Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
Violence in my life
5 October World Teachers
Established in 1994 by UNESCO to mobilise support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will be met by teachers. Soon to be outdated
7 October World Day for
Decent Work
Launched in 2008 by the International Trade Union Confederation, this is a day when trade unions in the world stand up for decent work. I want to work
2nd Thursday
in October
World Sight Day World Health Organisation: a day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and rehabilitation of the visually impaired. Change your glasses
10 October World Day
Against the
Death Penalty
Organised since 2002 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. When tomorrow comes
10 October World Mental
Health Day
First celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health Day. Who are I?
The week
including 15 October
European Local
Democracy Week
Promoted by the Council of Europe. The purpose is to foster the knowledge of local democracy and promote the idea of democratic participation at a local level. Let every voice be heard
16 October World Food Day Proclaimed in 1979 by the United Nations to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Take a step forward
17 October International Day
for the Eradication
of Poverty
Declared in 1992 by the General Assembly to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries. Scramble for wealth and power
24 October United Nations
Declared in 1947 as the anniversary of the Charter of the UN. The day “shall be devoted to making known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for its work.”  
In 1978 the UN declared Disarmament Week to highlight the danger of the arms race, propagate the need for its cessation and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament.  
25 October International Artists Day International Artists Day is a grassroots movement. October 25 was Picasso’s
Playing with pictures
3 November Men’s World Day International Men’s Day began in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago. It is supported by the UN. It aims to focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive
male role models.
Path to Equality-land
4 November European
Convention on
Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights was signed on this day in 1950. Power Station
6 November International Day
for Preventing
the Exploitation
of the Environment
in War and Armed Conflict
This day was declared by the UN in 2001 to promote protection of our common environment in times of armed conflict, when ecosystems and
natural resources are impaired long after the period of conflict, extending beyond the national territories and the present generation.
9 November International Day
Against Fascism
and Antisemitism
On this day in 1938, the Nazis started a pogrom against the Jews. Jewish shops (Night of Broken Glass). The Day is recognised by the Council of
9 November 1989 Berlin Wall
came down
This day symbolises the beginning of the breaking down of the barriers between Western and Eastern Europe.  
11 November International Day
of Science and
Established by UNESCO in 2001 to strengthen public awareness of the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies; it promotes national and 
international solidarity for a shared science between countries.
16 November International Day
for Tolerance
Declared by UNESCO in 1995 to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. Believers
18 November Anti-Trafficking
Established in 2007 following a recommendation of the European Parliament; it is an opportunity for awareness-raising of the need for better policy aimed at preventing and combating trafficking in human beings.  
20 November Universal Children’s
Declared by the UN in 1954 to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children, and of activities promoting the welfare of the world’s children. Children’s rights
21 November World Television
Declared by the UN in 1996 to encourage global exchanges of television programmes focusing on issues such as peace, security, economic and social development, and the enhancement of cultural exchanges. Picture games
25 November International Day
for the Elimination
of Violence against Women
Women’s activists have marked November 25 as a day against violence since 1981. It was declared a UN Day in 1999 to raise public awareness and “to say ‘No’ to violence against women”. Domestic affairs
29 November International Day
of Solidarity with
the Palestinian
Called in 1977 by the UN to show solidarity by organising exhibitions on Palestinian rights or other cultural events.  
1 December World AIDS Day Declared by the UN (WHO) in 1988 concerned about the pandemic proportions of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Access to medicaments
2 December International Day
for the Abolition
of Slavery
Recalls the date in 1949 of the adoption of the UN Convention for the  Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Others.  
3 December International
Day of Disabled
Declared in 1992 by the UN to raise awareness and enact measures to improve the situation of people with disabilities and to provide them with equal opportunities. See the ability
5 December International
Volunteer Day
for Economic and
Social Development
Declared in 1985 by the UN to heighten awareness of the contribution made by volunteer services, thereby stimulating people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad. Where do you stand?
9 December International Anti-
Corruption Day
Declared in 2003 by the UN to raise awareness of corruption, to stop accepting corruption as an inevitable fact of life, and to identify it as one of the major impediments to development.  
10 December Human Rights
All States and interested organisations were invited by the UN General Assembly
in 1950 to observe this day to mark the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Draw the word game Act it out, Fighters for rights
18 December International
Migrants Day
Declared in 2002 by the UN to ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants. 3 things
20 December International
Human Solidarity
An initiative in the fight against poverty by the UN in 2005 to celebrate our unity in diversity and promote solidarity for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals How much do we need?