World Day of Social Justice

Emily Dorman


It all started in 1995, when the World Summit for Social Development, hosted by Denmark, curated the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. These called on countries to center development around the people in order to rebuild, reform, and create more stable societies. 117 political leaders pledged “to make the conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of stable, safe and just societies their overriding objectives.”[1] The Declaration and Programme of Action were later reviewed at the Commission for Social Justice in 2005. Two years later, the United Nations officially declared that February 20th would be recognized as The World Day of Social Justice. To this day, the United Nations and International Labour Office use the day to spread awareness about the importance of social justice and how it can be used to reform societies.

What is Social Justice?

Today, the term is seen as very broad and is often misunderstood. Social Justice is built on 4 base principles: Equity, Access, Participation, and Rights. These principles are used by organizations like the United Nations to construct achievable goals surrounding social inequalities involving labor, race, gender, age, ethnicity and orientation. Every year the United Nations selects a theme relevant to prominent issues. 

2023: Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice

The international theme for the 2023 World Day of Social Justice is Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice. Recognizing February 20th this year aims to foster productive discussions between Member States, UN organizations, activists, youth, etc. to address the social inequalities people face today. The impacts that Covid 19 has had on the rights of workers and minorities will be a vocal point; along with climate change, geopolitical tensions, and armed conflicts.[2]

Today, the United Nations is making it their mission to reduce inequalities, poverty, and social tensions by working to accomplish the goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. You can learn more about the United Nations SDGs ??Here[3].

How Can You Commemorate World Day of Social Justice?

  • Research and learn more about social issues that interest you
  • Foster important discussions amongst your peers
  • Organize an event
  • Aim to educate yourself and others about worldly topics
  • Spread awareness about prominent issues
  • Learn more about new social causes/organizations
  • Don’t be afraid to shed light on a cause important to you, and spark change

[1]  “World Day of Social Justice.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed February 18, 2023.

[2] “World Day of Social Justice | DISD.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed February 18, 2023.

[3] “The 17 Goals | Sustainable Development.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed February 18, 2023.