At a time of growing polarization, misinformation, and limits placed on freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy, as well as ongoing conflict—understanding our human rights is a critical part of our daily lives. It dictates everything from how we gather in our communities and speak about the issues and causes we care about, to how to pursue freedom and prosperity.
But much of the knowledge about these rights is hidden within institutional systems or specialized publications that make it hard to access and understand them.
To address this challenge, this Human Rights Day, Wikipedia volunteers, the Wikimedia Foundation, and UN Human Rights are collaborating on a global campaign — #WikiForHumanRights — to improve and add articles about human rights on Wikipedia. The campaign will make knowledge of human rights more accessible for all. It will launch today, on 10 December, timed with the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and run through 30 January. Everyone is invited to participate.
To exercise our own human rights and stand up for those of others, we have to first understand them. As a top website viewed by hundreds of millions of people every month, Wikipedia provides a free, trusted, and multilingual resource to help make this information more easily accessible to the world.
“At Wikimedia, we know that free access to knowledge is a fundamental human right—that anyone, anywhere should have the ability to learn more about the world around them. When we have greater access to knowledge, our societies are more informed, just, and equitable,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.
The #WikiForHumanRights campaign builds on this commitment to make knowledge about human rights more easily accessible for everyone to learn about their basic human rights and how to uphold them. The campaign focuses on improving, adding, and translating Wikipedia articles about two key topics—the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding document outlining everyone’s fundamental rights, and youth activism, the young people who stand up for human rights every day and the issues they defend.
“To ensure that everyone has access to fundamental human rights, it’s critical that people first know their rights. By teaming up with Wikimedia, we are making critical knowledge about human rights available in as many languages as possible,” said Laurent Sauveur, Director of External Relations at UN Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born out of World War II, in recognition of the need to protect and uphold freedom and equality for everyone, everywhere. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It universalized human rights for the first time, holding that all people are entitled to these rights, regardless of country or government. It also placed on every human being the responsibility to stand up for others when abuses of these rights occur. Volunteer editors will be creating and translating the article about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Wikipedia throughout the campaign.
Today there are 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 years globally, accounting for one out of every six people worldwide. There are more adolescents and young people alive today than at any time in human history. With the rise of such transformational young leaders as Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai, youth have been major drivers of political, economic, and social change.
There is still so much more knowledge to add, improve, and translate about human rights. We need your help to make more knowledge about this critical topic available.
How to get involved
If you’re interested in getting involved in the campaign, there are several ways you can participate:
- Join an edit-a-thon
Check out this page to learn about local events near you and online edit-a-thons to add and improve articles about human rights. Many events will provide support with learning how to edit if you’re a newbie and will also provide lists of topics needing articles on Wikipedia. New events are still being added, so please continue to check!
Want to host your own event? Learn how with the event toolkit.
- Share human rights topics that should have articles on Wikipedia
Tell us which human rights topics are not represented in your local language Wikipedia, and add them to the campaign list of topics.
- Tell us why human rights are important to you
Help us amplify the campaign from now through the 30th of January on social media using the hashtag #WikiForHumanRights. Tell your followers and the world why you think getting to know your human rights is important. You can also re-tweet messages from @Wikipedia and @Wikimedia throughout the week.
- Share photos of your events
Have photos of an edit-a-thon you ran with your community? Consider uploading them to Wikimedia Commons or sharing them on social media. Be sure to tag @Wikipedia and use the hashtag #WikiForHumanRights and we’ll share your stories!
This campaign is part of a new partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation and UN Human Rights to expand the availability of knowledge about human rights online. It builds on the impactful work of Wikimedia Argentina, the local Wikimedia chapter dedicated to supporting the Wikimedia projects and mission in the country, and their WikiDerechosHumanos project. Working with partners such as the UN, the project has been expanding Wikimedia’s human rights-related content for several years now through a series of edit-a-thons and events. Wikimedia Argentina is playing a leading role in the #WikiForHumanRights campaign and in facilitating this wider partnership to take shape on a global scale.
By partnering with the UN’s Human Rights Office, we hope to support Wikimedians from around the world to create, improve, and expand content about human rights in all Wikimedia projects and across the nearly 300 languages of Wikipedia.
Follow us on @Wikipedia and @Wikimedia for event details and updates as the campaign continues through the 30th of January and check back for updates on the event page. You can also follow our collaborators @UNHumanRights to learn more about human rights and the campaign!
Jorge Vargas is Senior Partnerships Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. Follow them on Twitter at @jorgeavargas.
Alex Stinson is a Senior Strategist on Community Programs at the Wikimedia Foundation. Follow them on Twitter at @sadads.