75 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
16th Dec, 2023
The year 2023 is going to mark the 75th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Seventy-five years ago, the UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marking a pivotal moment in shaping the Post-World War II international order.
- While the declaration aimed to establish a common standard for all peoples and nations, its journey through the decades has been complex, reflecting the some historical moments of conflicts and crises.
Key Elements of the Universal Declaration
Content and Purpose:
- The declaration comprises a preamble and 30 articles outlining fundamental rights and freedoms.
- Article 1 emphasizes the inherent freedom and equality of all human beings.
- Article 2 underscores entitlement to rights and freedoms without discrimination.
- Various articles address the right to life, liberty, and security, freedom from slavery, torture, and equality before the law.
- It enshrines rights to freedom of religion, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and education.
Origins and Drafting:
- Born out of a "never again" sentiment post-World War II, the declaration aimed to guarantee individual rights globally.
- Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, reflecting diverse geographical representation.
- Over 50 United Nations (UN) member countries participated in the final drafting in 1948, culminating in unanimous approval by the General Assembly.
Legal Status and Impact:
- While not a treaty, the declaration's principles influenced many countries' laws and became the foundation for international human rights law.
- Recognized as inspiring over 70 human rights treaties globally, it influenced movements like decolonization and anti-apartheid.
- Despite its influence, the declaration faces challenges in its implementation.
- Noted its misuse and abuse for political gain, and some governments chip away at its principles.
- Non-binding and isn’t legally binding.
- Contemporary war landscape is the place for violation of human rights.
- Despite challenges, the declaration remains relevant, serving as a universal standard for human rights. IT places a public eye on errors and omissions.
- UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk emphasizes its inspiration for various freedom movements worldwide.
- The declaration isn’t a treaty and isn’t legally binding in itself, but the principles it sets out have been incorporated into many countries’ laws and it is viewed as the basis for international human rights law.
Current Human Rights Landscape
Conflict and Crises:
- The 75th anniversary coincides with challenges to human rights in conflicts like Israel-Hamas, Russia's war in Ukraine, and internal issues in Myanmar and Sudan.
Reflection and Acknowledgment:
- Amnesty International acknowledges the declaration as proof that a global vision for human rights is achievable.
- Türk emphasizes the declaration's relevance, acknowledging both its successes and the lessons learned from its failures.
As the world reflects on 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it stands as a testament to the possibility of a global vision for human rights. Despite challenges and misuse, its principles continue to guide the quest for a world where human rights are inherent and respected universally.