The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an international observance held annually on 26 June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honour and support victims and survivors throughout the world.
This is a day on which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable. This is an occasion for the world to speak up against the unspeakable. It is long overdue that a day be dedicated to remembering and supporting the many victims and survivors of torture around the world.
— Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 1998
On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we express our solidarity with, and support for, the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their family members throughout the world who endure such suffering. We also note the obligation of States not only to prevent torture but to provide all torture victims with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate social, psychological, medical and other forms of rehabilitation. Both the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have now strongly urged States to establish and support rehabilitation centers or facilities.
— United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 2012
The day was selected by the United Nations General Assembly for two reasons. First, on 26 June 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed during the midst of World War II – the first international instrument obliging UN members to respect and promote human rights. Second, 26 June 1987 was when the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect.
The decision to annually observe the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was taken by the UN General Assembly at the proposal of Denmark, which is home to the world-renowned International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).
The first 26 June events were launched in 1998. Since then, nearly 100 organizations in dozens of countries all over the world mark the day each year with events, celebrations and campaigns.