Celebrating the Universal Declaration: Our pledge

75 years ago, as the world emerged from the horrors of World War II, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of Human Rights. Today, it remains a unique document that places the inherent dignity of all people as the foundation for freedom, justice, and peace.

From the outset, the Universal Declaration has resonated deeply with Franciscans. Looking at the example of Francis of Assisi – whose own faith was shaped through his experience as a soldier – it is easy to see how this document dovetails with his own uncompromising belief in human dignity.

Yet, as we mark this anniversary, it is also painfully clear that the realization of these values remains a distant reality for many, whether because of conflict, extreme poverty, or the environmental crises we face. Together with their allies, Franciscans remain committed to putting the words of the Universal Declaration into practice, through both direct action at the grassroots and at the UN.

As part of the celebrations around the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights organized a two-day high-level event in Geneva. During this meeting, UN Member States and civil society organizations were invited to take part in a “pledging tree” to offer their concrete commitments to human rights.

Markus Heinze OFM, FI’s Executive Director, used the occasion to deliver the following statement:

“Franciscans International appreciates the opportunity to express our pledge on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For nearly 35 years, Franciscans International has built bridges between Franciscans working at the grassroots level and the United Nations.

With the support of our team of human rights experts in Geneva and New York, the concerns of Franciscans and the communities they represent are brought to the attention of the international community.

Bringing together these two worlds, Franciscans International advocates for human dignity and environmental justice, using a rights-based approach.

Today, we celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tomorrow, we continue our efforts to help realize the promises it holds for all of us.


We pledge to work toward a global community in which,

  • the dignity of every person is respected,
  • resources are shared equitably,
  • the environment is protected,
  • and nations and peoples live in peace.

Thank you.”