“All Human, All Equal” is the theme of this year’s International Human Rights Day, which is observed every year on December 10 and is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill drafted and signed the Declaration of the United Nations in 1942, preserving “human rights” was indeed named as one of its main missions. However, those rights were both vague and undefined. It wasn’t until later that the UN would agree upon a set of articles that spell out just what those human rights actually are.
Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948, the Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. Also included were scholars, philosophers, lawyers, and more, from China, Lebanon, Australia, Chile, France, and the Soviet Union. Originally, it was worried that any such attempt to create a set of rights that applied to all people of all cultures would ultimately be an exercise in ethnocentrism, that is, the idea that one culture knows better than another. Still, the committee came through with 30 articles that remain a landmark in their scope and intention. The philosophical questions regarding the right to life and liberty, the freedom from torture and slavery, even the right to rest and leisure, were tediously and thoroughly examined and debated before ultimately being crafted into the document we know today “as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.”
Learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, those who helped draft it, and the topics addressed within it with these titles.