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Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”
Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [i]
December 10, 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948 as a result of the horrific experiences of World War II. After war ended, the international community came together and vowed to never again allow the atrocities of the war happen again.
The Commission on Human Rights was formed in 1946 and comprised of 18 members of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt (seen above) was appointed Chair of the Commission and played a significant part in the drafting of the Declaration. After two years of drafting, the Declaration was sent out to the fifty UN member States for comments. Eleanor Roosevelt stated that the Declaration “might well become the international Magna Carta of all mankind”. [ii]
For the first time in history, world leaders came together to profess that human rights were to be universally recognized and protected. The Declaration was a milestone document and it was meant to set a universal standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.
The preamble of the Declaration professed the universality of human rights and that human rights were inherent by virtue of our shared humanity. [iii] This means that all humans are free and equal regardless of race, colour, gender, language, creed, religion, political opinion, national or social origin or other characteristics.
The Declaration became “cornerstone for the international human rights system” and had the “power of ideas to change the world”. [iv]
It paved the way for all subsequent Human Rights Charters and Treaties. Canada was one of the signatory States, signing the Declaration in 1948. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in Canada’s Constitution, was drafted with reference to the Declaration.
Although the Declaration has served as a foundation to human rights being recognized and implemented globally, there are still inequalities and inequities being faced by people around the world.
The UN High Commission for Human Rights said that “we need to find a new energy that motivates young people around the world”. [v]
The slogan for 2022 is “Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”[vi] .
The hope is that young people around the world will continue the legacy of the ideas that began to shape the world in 1948.
Grazia Condello, LL.B., LL.M. Student
Neuberger & Partners LLP
[i] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, https://www.ohchr.org/en/human-rights/universal-declaration/translations/english
[ii] Chair of the Assembly Eleanor Roosevelt in the final session of the UN Grand Assembly in 1948
[iii] International Human Rights Law and Practice, by Professors Bantekas and Oette (Cambridge University Press, 2020