People gather at Freedom Park during a Human Rights Day celebration in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Dec. 10, 2016.
People gather at Freedom Park during a Human Rights Day celebration in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Dec. 10, 2016.

WASHINGTON - Countries around the world mark International Human Rights Day December 10.

As disrespect for basic human rights continues to be widespread in many parts of the globe, the United Nations is calling on everyone to stand up for universal rights.

“The time for this is now. We the peoples can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity,” the world body said in a statement.

“Upholding human rights is in the interest of all. Respect for human rights advances well-being for every individual, stability for every society, and harmony for our interconnected world,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

FILE - Masked protesters gather for a rally near t
Masked protesters gather for a rally near the Presidential Palace to mark International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, 2016, in Manila, Philippines. The protesters are calling on the government for an end to extrajudicial killings in the country, which have claimed more than 4,000 lives.

U.S., Europe call out China

The United States and the European Union called particularly on China to free its political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, who has been in prison since 2008. The U.S. and EU cite a deteriorating human rights situation in China, where hundreds of lawyers and activists have been detained in the past year.

“I remain extremely concerned about the ongoing detention of Chinese lawyers,” Max Baucus, the U.S. ambassador to China, said in a statement. “China’s treatment of these lawyers and advocates calls into question its commitment to the rule of law.”

An EU statement said, “We urge China to immediately release any individual who has been detained … for seeking to exercise, protect or promote their own rights or the rights of others.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative pro-Christian values advocacy group, is calling for protection of the persecuted in the Middle East, especially Christians.

Milestone remembered

International Human Rights Day is a commemoration of December 10, 1948, when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document outlining basic international human rights norms.