Twenty years ago today, an unprecedented number of countries and partners came together in Vienna to adopt the Vienna Declaration of Human Rights.

Throughout the years, the United Nations has held summits recognizing the rights of different groups of people. Known as mandates, these are the rights that UN peacekeepers recognize and commit to protecting. Here are some highlights from the past twenty years.  You can see the full interactive timeline here.

  • March 4, 1994: Mandate on violence against women is established. Elimination of all forms of gender-based violence in the family, within the general community and where perpetrated or condoned by the State, emphasizing the duty of Governments to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women.
  • April 17, 1998: Mandate on extreme poverty and human rights.  People living in poverty across the world are often socially excluded and marginalized from political power and processes. The elimination of extreme poverty is not a question of charity, but a pressing human rights issue.

Mandate on the right to education is established. Many challenges remain for the millions of children who are out of school. No child should fear violence for wanting to learn. Children must not have to pay for school fees, uniforms, or transportation. No child should have to work to be able to eat. All of these difficulties cannot be ignored; they must be overcome for the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015.

  • April 17, 2000: Declaration of the right to food. The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman, and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.
  • April 19, 2004: Mandate on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children is established. Millions of people around the world fall victim to human traffickers. People who are trafficked suffer emotional and physical trauma. Lured through the use of force, deception, or coercion, they are often subjected to threats, abuse, violence and inhumane working and living conditions.

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