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International
Human Rights Law:
Prospects & Challenges
Week 1, Lecture 3:
The United Nations & the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
Lecture Overview
Human rights & the U.N. Charter
The drafting and adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
The content of the UDHR:
What are the rationales for HRs in the preamble?
Which rights and freedoms are protected?
Can States restrict protected rights & freedoms?
Human rights & the U.N. Charter
The United Nations (U.N.) created at
the end of the Second World War.
At the time, some smaller States wanted
to add an international bill of rights to
the U.N. Charter.
Charter did not include such a bill, but it
does contain general references to HRs.
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Human rights & the U.N. Charter
One of the purposes of the U.N. is
promoting and encouraging respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms
for all. U.N. Charter, Article 1(3)
U.N. member States pledge to take joint
and separate action to promote
universal respect for, and observance of,
human rights and fundamental freedoms
for all. Articles 55 & 56
The drafting and adoption
of the Universal Declaration
A new U.N. body the U.N. Human
Rights Commission began work on
an international bill of rights in 1946.
The Commission decided to prepare
a nonbinding declaration of rights
while working on a legally binding
international agreement.
The drafting and adoption
of the Universal Declaration
UDHR adopted by the U.N. General
Assembly on December 10, 1948.
48 States voted in favor; no State
opposed; and 8 States abstained.
In favor: 14 European & other Western
nations; 19 States from Latin America;
and 15 from Africa and Asia.
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Content of the UDHR
A preamble
Thirty substantive articles:
civil and political rights
economic, social and cultural rights
duties and Limitations
Major themes: dignity liberty, equality and
brotherhood.
Review the UDHR before continuing:
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Ren Cassins
portico of the UDHR
reproduced in: Mary Ann Glendon,
A World Made New: Eleanor
Roosevelt and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (2002)
The Preamble of the UDHR
Analysis of the justifications and
objectives in the Preamble
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UDHR: Civil &
Political Rights
life, liberty & personal security
freedom from slavery &
servitude
freedom from arbitrary arrest &
detention
freedom from torture &
degrading treatment
equality under the law
fair criminal process
freedom of thought,
conscience & religion
freedom of expression &
association
freedom of movement
privacy
marriage & family
property
universal suffrage & elections
UDHR: Economic, Social
& Cultural Rights
work and leisure
to form & join trade unions
social security
a standard of living
adequate for health and
well-being, including food,
clothing, housing and
medical care
education, including free
primary education
to share in scientific
advancement & its benefits
protection of scientific,
literary & artistic
productions
UDHR Article 29:
Duties and Limitations
1. Everyone has duties to the community.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms,
everyone shall be subject only to such
limitations as are determined by law solely for
the purpose of securing due recognition and
respect for the rights and freedoms of others
and of meeting the just requirements of
morality, public order and the general welfare
in a democratic society.
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For additional information
BBC News,
World Marks UN Human
Rights Day
United For Human Rights,
30 videos on each of the
articles in the UDHR.
.