The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document that was drafted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights after the close of the Second World War. The document was intended to more clearly define the “rights” mentioned in the charter of the United Nations, while also providing a clear and general definition of human rights for all member nations. The Declaration has since been translated into over 300 languages, and it is very widely referenced all over the world.
One of the champions of the document was Eleanor Roosevelt, who sat as chairwoman on the Commission when the document was drafted. Roosevelt also contributed a substantial amount of text to it. On 10 December 1948, the document was officially ratified by 48 member nations, while eight abstained from voting.
Altogether, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes 30 articles that clearly outline basic human rights such as freedom from torture and slavery. The Declaration is intended to clearly and simply lay out all of the rights to which people are entitled around the world, and it serves as an advisory statement rather than a legally binding document. Member countries of the United Nations are encouraged to support these rights, while making copies of the document widely available.
Many of the articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are drawn on the already existing bills of rights of several nations. The Declaration is intended to promote equality and liberty, and it includes a number of articles that focus on basic legal protections, such as the right to a fair trial. Women, children, and families are also addressed in several articles, because these groups face specific issues. In addition, Article 29 indicates that humans and governments have responsibilities to each other, to ensure that human rights are preserved and protected.
Some people have criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguing that it is written with a very Western and Judeo-Christian bias. Muslims in particular have concerns about the Declaration, because they are concerned that some aspects of it may conflict with their religious beliefs. Some Eastern nations also believe that the concept of human rights belongs to Western philosophy, rather than to the whole world. Despite this opposition, many Eastern nations or countries with large Muslim populations have ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, indicating their support for it.