“…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
These are the words in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) promulgated 70 years ago on December 10, 1948. They were supposed to reflect a new understanding of the causes of war and a commitment to the highest values of the “international community.”
The UDHR was the first major instrument produced by the United Nations (UN), an institution itself created at the end of the second world war. Its creation was hailed as a breakthrough that would give institutional substance to the pledge by member states to promote international cooperation, commit to peaceful relations among states and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
According to Elenore Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt and U.S. representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, the structure responsible for producing the UDHR, the declaration reflected those natural and eternal rights that, nevertheless, were not always seen but under the right circumstances could be revealed and nurtured.
It was thought by many that the UDHR with its commitments to freedom of thought and speech, assembly, education, life-long social security, health care, food, the right to culture etc., represented the hope of an international community that had…