Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(1948)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Eight countries abstained: Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been drafted by the Commission on Human Rights, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a speech before the General Assembly she described the declaration as the “international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.” The former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, is not alone in his belief that “the principles enshrined in the Declaration are the yardstick by which we measure progress. They lie at the heart of all that the United Nations aspires to achieve in its global mission of peace and development.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the founding document of the International Bill of...

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Eleanor Roosevelt (Library of Congress)

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