Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
Eleanor Roosevelt, “The Great Question,” remarks delivered at the United Nations in New York on March 27, 1958.
December 10, 1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).
The history of human rights has been shaped by all major world events and by the struggle for dignity, freedom and equality everywhere. Yet it was only with the establishment of the United Nations that human rights finally achieved formal, universal recognition. The turmoil and atrocities of the Second World War and the growing struggle of colonial nations for independence prompted the countries of the world to create a forum to deal with some of the war’s consequences and, in particular, to prevent the recurrence of such appalling events. This forum was the United Nations.
- Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon)
- Alexandre Bogomolov (USSR)
- Dr. Peng-chun Chang (China)
- René Cassin (France)
- Eleanor Roosevelt (US)
- Charles Dukes (United Kingdom)
- William Hodgson (Australia)
- Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile)
- John P. Humphrey (Canada)
What legal instruments help the UN protect human rights?
The International Bill of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was the first legal document protecting universal human rights. Together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the three instruments form the so-called International Bill of Human Rights. A series of international human rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have expanded the body of international human rights law. @UN