Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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“a single short document of 30 articles that has probably had more impact on mankind than any other document in modern history.”

– UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in her statement marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Sixty years ago today, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by a vote of 48 in favor, 0 against, and 8 abstentions (the six Soviet bloc states, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).
One summer years ago, as I read through the hundreds of microfiches of the drafting documents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for an article on hate speech in international law, I gained new perspectives on the document. I saw how erroneous the common assertion was that economic and social rights were supported by the Soviet bloc but opposed by the West, and how the drafting sessions were used as a forum for calling attention to racial discrimination and lynchings in the United States. The Cold War entered into the drafting sessions. And women delegates pressed for language to ensure that a”universal”declaration of rights would include women in that universe.
Over at IntLawGrrls I’ve posted some comments on the drafting history of the Universal Declaration, addressing:
  • Rights for “all men” or “all human beings”?
  • US opposition to including “equal rights of men and women” in the Preamble
  • Racial discrimination and lynchings in the United States
  • Rights — and duties
  • The myth of opposition by the West to economic, social and cultural rights
Full post here.
- Stephanie Farrior
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