What happens in December 2016?

Starting with #WorldAidsDay, December features Human Rights Day, Christmas and several African independence days.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Syrian refugee children attend class in Lebanon. [EPA]

While it is difficult to predict what will be the breaking  news  of the upcoming month, the United Nations, and various communities around the world have marked their calendars in December to remember, and in some occasions, celebrate a number of recurring events and anniversaries. Here are a few of them.

World days

On Wednesday, December 2 , the UN marks the Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Although slavery was officially abolished worldwide in 1981, millions of people around the world still suffer. Modern slavery today is manifested in the form of forced prostitution, human trafficking, bonded slavery, and more.

On Saturday, December 10 , the UN commemorates the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, recognising “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.

The first article of the declaration is that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

This year, the Human Rights Day slogan is “Stand up for someone’s rights today”, encouraging individuals and organisations everywhere to take a stand against human right violations they observe.

See Al Jazeera’s coverage of human rights issues around the globe and the stories behind those suffering, and the movements fighting to bring an end to human rights abuses still rampant in so many corners of the world, and those who work to nurture tolerance and compassion for those most in need.

The UN also call for the observance of the following:

World Aids Day on December 1

The Aids epidemic is estimated to be growing at a rate of 7,500 infections – for young women aged 15-24 alone – every week. Even though HIV is preventable, the UN report highlights a preventions gap in Africa.

Read more from Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Aids epidemic and the global efforts to combat the disease.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3

In the United States, more than 200,000 people with disabilities work for subminimum wages, according to the US Department of Labor. With the Day of Persons with Disabilities Day, the UN aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and encouraging greater inclusion for persons with disabilities.

Being disabled in Afghanistan

World Soil Day, International Volunteer Day on December 5

Senegal: Villagers replanting mangroves to protect environment and their livelihood

On Monday, December 5, the World Soil Day will be celebrated at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome and in other regional offices. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of the soil on the foods that we eat every day and of climate change.

Read Al Jazeera’s coverage of environmental news:

INTERACTIVE: Lungs of the Earth 

WATCH: Iran’s water crisis

On International Volunteer Day, Ban Ki-moon invites the global community to “renew our determination to offer strength and inspiration to others through volunteerism”.

READ MORE: Volunteers leave Greek island after attacks on refugees

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: Kashmir, volunteers help the injured and needy

International Civil Aviation Day on December 7

Proclaimed in 1996 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Civil Aviation Day marks the anniversary of the Convention on International Civil Aviation signed in 1944 for coordinating and regulating international air travel, which, among other things, calls on every state to refrain from resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight.

Find out more about the latest plane crash in Colombia.

Interactive  Timeline – Major air disasters


International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9

With ongoing news of corruption scandals , it is estimated that corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world. The Anti-Corruption Day promoted by the UN calls on people to denounce corruption everywhere they observe it.

Exclusive: Uncovering corruption in the Maldives

Al Jazeera Investigates – The Poacher’s Pipeline promo

International Migrants Day on December 18

There is an important distinction between economic migrants, and refugees. Refugees have to flee for their lives because of a war, for example, not just seeking a better economic opportunity.

The International Migrants Day is a reminder of those that lost their lives on the way between borders, or at the borders themselves.

From fleeing for their lives and making perilous journeys to places far away and unknown, to stories of triumph, Al Jazeera has followed the  journeys of those who have been uprooted, seeking safety or opportunity.

RELATED: Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean ‘migrants’

INTERACTIVE: The refugee crisis beyond Europe

Religious festivities

In December this year, Muslims around the world will commemorate the birth of Prophet Mohamed, born in 570 AD.

Because the date of his birth is marked on the Hijri lunar calendar, it occurs on a different date every year in the Gregorian calendar, like other Muslim holidays . Also known as Mawlid, this year the anniversary is expected on Sunday, December 11, and is generally a public holiday in many Muslim-majority countries, such as Jordan , Pakistan and Malaysia.

On December 25, Christians around the world will celebrate the Christmas festival marking the birth of Jesus in year 0 BCE. Some eastern churches mark the birth of Jesus on January 6.

Just before Christmas day is the Winter solstice, on Wednesday, December 21. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, delivering the fewest hours of sunshine on the day.

National days

On Wednesday, December 7, the US will mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in which the US remembers the day in 1947 in which the  Japanese military carried a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Consequently, the US declared war on Japan and entered into World War II .

On a happier note, in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will be celebrating their national days on December 2 and December 18, respectively.

On Friday, December 2, the UAE marks the unification of the seven emirates and the founding of the country in 1971. On Sunday, December 18 Qatar marks the day in which its modern state was founded in 1878 .
This year’s celebration comes amid falling oil revenues for the region, reminding the world of the  2009  financial hardship.

In Africa , Kenya and Libya will celebrate their independence.

On Monday, December 12 Kenya marks its independence from the British in 1963. On Saturday, December 24, Libya marks its independence from British-French control in 1951.

Kenya’s Mau Mau: The Last Battle – Witness

End of 2016

At the end of December, on Saturday, December 31 people around the world celebrate the end of the year 2016, and the beginning of a new year at midnight of Sunday, January 1, 2017.

For 2017, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had asked the UN to declare 2017 to be the end of the Israeli occupation .

Source: Al Jazeera