Human Rights Day 2022 – Q&A Natalie Swinnen – Brussels

In the run up to Human Rights Day, which the world will be celebrating tomorrow, we posted some interviews with some of our team members to share the observance of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), taking place next year. The interviews spotlighted one or more of its articles and gave a personal view on the declaration.

Our last volunteer is Natalie Swinnen, Brussels Associate, who shares her personal connection with the UDHR below:

  1. When was the first time you have learned about the UDHR and in which context?

The first time I learned about the UDHR was during my first year of law studies at the University of Ghent. We had a human rights course in which the UDHR was one of the focal points, and rightfully so. Given its universal nature, it has formed the basis for many other majorly important human rights related instruments.

  1. How would you describe the UDHR in only three words?

Universality – Humanity – Rights

  1. Which Article of the UDHR has sparked your interest the most?

Article 19 –

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Although I am extremely convinced about the relevance of many rights contained in the UDHR, I believe that freedom of opinion and expression is one of the most precious ones. Having the possibility to discuss, challenge, hear and share critical reflections about political, ethical, social, and other issues, openly and without fear may seem obvious, but it is not. However, as we can read in our newspapers every day, it is unfortunately a far from acquired right for many.

  1. Has thinking about the UDHR changed your perception and/or behavior – if yes, in what way?

It has to a certain extent. Even though it may be true that the newspapers often prove to us that we should not take freedom of expression for granted, I think we often tend to do exactly that. Thinking about the UDHR has therefore reminded me of the necessity to raise awareness, even where it seems obvious, and to encourage people and their governments to strive to do better.


A little bit more about Human Rights Day itself:

10 December – the anniversary of the UDHR, is celebrated annually as World Human Rights Day. The inception of the Human Rights Day dates from 1950. The date is marked by high-level political conferences as well as cultural events and exhibitions from governmental as well as non-governmental organizations.

This year’s anniversary marks the beginning of a year-long campaign of the UN for the 75th anniversary of the Declaration in 2023.

Also, on 10 December the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights is awarded. It is intended to honour people and organisations which have made an exceptional contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights. As of December 2018 – the last awarding of the UNs prize in the field of human rights – 64 awards have been presented: to outstanding individuals, human rights groups and organisations.


Interested in what our other team members had to say about the UDHR? Find the links to the other interviews below:

Find out more about HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER’s D&I activities, goals and policies here