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UN: Despite Human Rights Day, 'Many Challenges Remain'


Activists of the Awami Ittihad party get into a scuffle with Indian policemen as they are stopped during a protest to mark International Human Rights Day in Srinagar, India, Dec. 10, 2015.

As the world observes International Human Rights Day on Thursday, the top United Nations human rights official is warning that "many challenges remain" to ensure freedom, justice and peace across the world.

International Human Rights Day is a commemoration of the date in 1948 when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document outlining basic international rights norms.

The declaration and subsequent human rights treaties "have played an important role in securing better respect and recognition (of rights) during the past five at times turbulent decades," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

"Of course, many challenges remain," he added in the video statement. "But respect for freedom continues to be the foundation for peace, security, and development for all."

WATCH: U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's speech

U.N. officials are using this year's commemoration to draw attention to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted in 1966.

"The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings," the U.N. said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added: "On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all."