66 years ago, representatives of 50 countries crafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global expression of the principle that all persons possess certain fundamental, inalienable rights. Tremendous progress has been made since the UDHR’s adoption, but there is tremendous work left to do to fulfill the UDHR’s promise.

Forced early marriage is an egregious human rights violation that profoundly impacts women and girls worldwide. Many international instruments establish the right to choose whether, when and whom to marry. Forced early marriage also impedes victims’ realization of other fundamental human rights – such as health, education, equality, non-discrimination, freedom from violence and exploitation.

This International Human Rights Day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urges us all to honor our commitment to respect, protect, and fulfill all people’s fundamental human rights 365 days/year.

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