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The Creation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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The creation and establishment of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was a direct response to the horrific events and devastation of World War II and is a fundamental descendent of the ideas of The Enlightenment’s humanistic political theories.  The establishment in 1945 of the U.N. “seemed to represent hope that such devastation (WWII) would not recur” (U.S. Department of State).  The 1948 Declaration of Human Rights was the first significant Act of the young United Nations.  It was designed to be “an enduring international commitment to human rights” (UDHR50).

The early U.N. was a result of the past and a hopeful instrument for the future.  The unprecedented devastation and genocide of World War II was to be prevented at all costs.  The Holocaust, in particular, “alters forever popular awareness of human rights abuses and underscores the need for international human rights guarantees” (UDHR50) As the model. The Declaration serves as an extremely effective and durable guide to the fundamental values shared by mankind.

Although by necessity the Declaration is much more comprehensive, it shares ancestors with the very durable American Bill of Rights.  As such, the tenants can be directly traced to the finest sources of humanistic thought, including writings of  Aquinas, Locke, and Rousseau and the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. (UDHR 50)

The Declaration speaks in very clear solid terms, with the clarity of a purpose to stand as a reminder to those with rights and a sentinel to who do not.  Without its background and source of inspiration it would be quite hollow; because of the reason for and sources of its creation it will be a timeless document.


The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. U.N. General Assembly

Resolution217A (III) of December 10, 1948. Retrieved May 19, 2007 from http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Fiftieth Anniversary Webpage, 1998.

Retrieved May 19, 2007 from http://www.udhr.org/history/default.htm.

The U.S. Department of State. October, 2005. “The United States and the Founding of

            The United Nations, August 1941—October 1945. Retrieved May 19, 2007 from


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