70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration on Human… | tutor2u Law
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70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration on Human Rights

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The UNDHR was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and is the foundation upon which the European Convention on Human Rights stands. Developed after the Second World War, the UNDHR responded to the horrific atrocities that had occurred across Europe and Asia throughout the 20th century, in the hope that they could be prevented in future.

It is worth remembering the principles on which it was founded. Kofi Annan, as UN Secretary General, wrote this in 2005: “while freedom from want and fear are essential they are not enough. All human beings have the right to be treated with dignity and respect”. This is why human rights and the rule of law are essential to a functioning society. Without them, the freedoms we enjoy are eroded, in favour of other things like money and power, leading to prejudice and discrimination.

When the UNDHR was created, it was the product of a pluralist set of values. Western and Eastern ideas were considered by 18 delegates from across the global, cultural, political and religious spectrum, in order to find what held us in common. This enabled the development of a framework that state laws could be built upon, ultimately leading in the UK’s case to the Human Rights Act 1998. Key figures included Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), Charles Malik (Lebanon), Rene Cassin (France) and Peng Chung Chang (China). By the end of the drafting process, over 50 member states had contributed.

You can find a list of the human rights established by the UDHR here.

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