In 1946, the United Nations established the UN Commission on Human Rights with the task of drafting an international codex of human rights. This ambitious enterprise was supported by a positive vision of the future and a new view of the world, which defined peace, security and the safeguarding of human rights as interrelated values.

At a time when people were trying to overcome the horrors of war and genocide, dignity, freedom and equality of all humans were proclaimed as fundamental and inalienable human rights in thirty articles.

Even though it did not become a binding instrument under international law, as was originally envisioned, the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS did become a milestone of international cooperation and served as a model for the elaboration of a large number of constitutions governed by the rule of law.


The commitment of a strong woman

The eighteen-strong expert commission was presided over by Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, the year her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt died. She also was the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It does not do justice to this outstanding woman to merely reduce her role to that of First Lady. She not only fought for women's rights, but also for societal change and educational and social reforms.Countless awards were bestowed on her to honor her work.

She was a masterful strategist at promoting her vision of a more peaceful and just world.


Freedom – everywhere in the world

Preceding it, the most striking influence on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" embedded in his State of the Union Address before the US Congress on 6 January 1941:

"Freedom of speech, 
Freedom of worship,
Freedom from want, 
Freedom from fear –
everywhere in the world."


Historic unanimity

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted unanimously on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

48 countries voted in favour, none against, and eight abstained (the Soviet Union, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa). Regardless of the significance of the abstinent votes the result is still considered a historic success.