On Dec. 19 the United Nations General Assembly, meeting in New York, adopted a historic new U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training.

As the first internationally agreed standard for human rights education officially proclaimed by the U.N., the new document provides an important foundation for empowering people by raising awareness of all human rights including the rights set out and guaranteed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international covenants. It should enable intensified efforts toward the building of a universal culture of human rights.

For alongside legal guarantees of human rights — and remedies in the event they are violated — it is ultimately necessary to foster, through education, human behavior that is based on an appreciation of the dignity of every life, and thereby prevent violations from occurring in the first place.