The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (also UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/217, December 10 1948), outlining a view on basic human rights. John Peters Humphrey of Canada was its principal drafter, aided by Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States, René Cassin of France, and P. C. Chang of China, among others.
While it is not a legally binding document, it served as the foundation for the original two legally-binding UN human rights Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. It continues to be widely cited by academics, advocates, and constitutional courts. International lawyers often debate which of its provisions can be said to represent customary international law. Opinions vary widely on this question, from very few provisions to the entire declaration.
The Guinness Book of Records (GBR) describes the UDHR as the "Most Translated Document" in the world, translated as of 2004 into 321 languages and dialects. 1 Other works are more translated, however; for example, the Bible is also described in the GBR as "translated into 2,233 languages and dialects." 2 Some of the translations available on the UNHCHR website contain unrectified mistakes.
Eleanor Roosevelt referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as "a Magna Carta for all mankind".
The rock band U2 projected the UDHR onto an enormous screen after performing their song "Running to Stand Still" during their Vertigo 2005 world tour concerts. Their presentation also included individuals from around the world speaking selected articles of the UDHR.
- Magna Carta, England, 1215
- English Bill of Rights, 1689
- Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 1776
- United States Declaration of Independence, July 1776
- United States Bill of Rights, completed in 1789, approved in 1791
- Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789
- Constitution of the Soviet Union, first 1918
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982
- Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990