What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a formal declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th of 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formulated as a result of War II; the document represents the first global expression of rights to which all people are entitled. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of 30 articles; each article has been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, human rights instruments and national laws. More specifically, the International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 1966, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ two Optional Protocols were enacted, which in essence, wholly completed the document. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The following authors helped construct the document: Eleanor Roosevelt (United States), John Peters Humphrey (Canada), Rene Cassin (France), P.C. Chang (China), Charles Malik (Lebanon) and others.
History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
During World War II, the allies adopted the Four Freedoms: freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom from want and freedom from fear. To reaffirm the faith in these fundamental human rights, the United Nations Charter promoted a universal regarding the observance of these rights. When the atrocities, committed by Nazi Germany, became known, the consensus within the global community was that the United Nations Charter did not wholly define the rights it had referenced. In response to this lack of sufficiency, a universal declaration to explicitly label the rights of individuals was mandated to give effect to the Charter’s provisions concerning human rights. In response to this need, John Peters Humphrey, of Canada, was called upon by the United Nations to act as the project’s principal drafter. Following this appointment, Humphrey and the Commission on Human Rights (a body of the United Nations) was responsible for choosing the membership of the Commission--a board designed to represent the global community.
Structure of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
The structure of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was primarily influenced by the Code Napoleon; the document contains a preamble and various introductory general principles. Rene Cassin was responsible for preparing and molding the structure of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 1 and 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are the foundation of the document; these articles are rooted in principles of liberty, equality, dignity and brotherhood. The preamble is comprised of seven paragraphs, which establish the reasons for the Declaration. The main body for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights forms the four columns of the document.
The first column (articles 3-11) for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitutes rights of the individual, including the right to life and the prohibition of slaver. The second column (articles 12-17) affirm the rights of the individual in political and civil contexts. The third column (articles 18-21) constitutes an assortment of spiritual, public and political freedoms, including the freedom of association and religion. The fourth column (articles 22-27) establishes various social, cultural and economic rights.