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December 10, 1948 -
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

After the horror of widespread, devastation, suffering and genocide that ravaged the world during World War II, there was a general consensus that something had to be done to make sure this kind of gross violation of human rights never took place again. Protecting basic rights is essential in creating a world at peace, and it was one of the foundations of the goals of the United Nations when it was created in 1945. Building on the Four Freedoms (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear), which the Allies had agreed upon during war, the UN Charter requires nations to respect basic rights and freedoms and to take action to protect them.

A century and a half before, the US Bill of Rights had expounded upon the general call for respect in the US Constitution's description of the natural rights of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness', and enumerated specific ones. It was decided that the United Nations had to do the same to make it clear to nations what 'fundamental freedoms' and 'human rights' all people of the earth should be guaranteed. An international committee, chaired by US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. Although it is not legally binding for nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a profound milestone, as it painted a much clearer picture of the specific essential requirements for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world than had ever before been described. The UDHR is the most translated document in the world, and it continues to provide the moral and diplomatic framework for those working for human rights to bring about the changes needed to create a better world. It has influenced many international laws and treaties as well as most of the national constitutions that have been adopted since 1948. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council addresses human rights violations, and numerous nonprofit civil society organizations throughout the world work to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of all people.

As the world has become more global and interconnected, the human rights movement has been able to spread throughout the world, winning rights for people everywhere. Many victories have been won, but there is still a long way to go: Today there are still 27 million people in slavery ... Torture is still used by more than 80 governments ... More than 1 billion people do not have access to clean water ... and many other injustices. Many people and organizations work throughout the year to help protect human rights - often placing their own lives in danger. Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, is an important global occasion to remind us about their efforts and the importance of protecting human rights for all as the foundation of a better world.

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May Peace Prevail On Earth


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