Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted from early 1947 to late 1948 by Canadian John Peters Humphrey of the United Nations Secretariat and representatives of countries which were members of the first United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which was until 2006, when it was replaced by the United Nations Human Rights Council, a standing body of the United Nations.

Well known members of the Commission who contributed significantly to the creation of the Declaration included Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States, who was Chairman, Jacques Maritain and René Cassin of France, Charles Malik of Lebanon, and P. C. Chang of China,[1] among others.


Membership of the Commission

The membership of the Commission was designed to be broadly representative of the global community with representatives of the following countries serving: Australia, Belgium, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Chile, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Lebanon, Panama, Philippines, United Kingdom, United States, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.[2]

The Humphrey Draft

Humphrey was newly appointed as Director of the Division of Human Rights within the United Nations Secretariat.[3] In this role he produced the first draft of a list of rights that were to form the basis of the Declaration.

The Cassin Draft (the Second Draft)

The underlying structure of the Universal Declaration was introduced in its second draft which was prepared by Rene Cassin. Cassin worked from a first draft prepared by John Peters Humphrey. The structure was influenced by the Code Napoleon, including a preamble and introductory general principles.[4] Cassin compared the Declaration to the portico of a Greek temple, with a foundation, steps, four columns and a pediment. Articles 1 and 2 are the foundation blocks, with their principles of dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood. The seven paragraphs of the preamble, setting out the reasons for the Declaration, are represented by the steps. The main body of the Declaration forms the four columns. The first column (articles 3-11) constitutes rights of the individual, such as the right to life and the prohibition of slavery. The second column (articles 12-17) constitutes the rights of the individual in civil and political society. The third column (articles 18-21) is concerned with spiritual, public and political freedoms such as freedom of religion and freedom of association. The fourth column (articles 22-27) sets out social, economic and cultural rights. In Cassin's model, the last three articles of the Declaration provide the pediment which binds the structure together. These articles are concerned with the duty of the individual to society and the prohibition of use of rights in contravention of the purposes of the United Nations.[5]

Subsequent Drafting

The Cassin draft was submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and was to undergo editing in the Commission, then in further drafts considered by the Third Committee of the United Nations, and finally in a draft before the General Assembly of the United Nations, which ultimately adopted the Declaration on 10 December 1948. The vote for the declaration was 48 to 0 with eight abstentions: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, People's Republic of Poland, Union of South Africa and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia[6].

UDHR Timeline

Source: United Nations Year Book 1948-1949, pp 524 et seq


  • United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco


  • 15 February, Establishment of "Nuclear Committee" of Commission on Human Rights.
  • 29 April - 20 May 1946 - First Meeting of the Nuclear Committee.
  • 21 June 1946 - ECOSOC adopts terms of reference of permanent Commission on Human Rights


  • 27 January - 10 February - First Meeting of the Commission on Human Rights, Lake Success, New York. Drafting Committee established.
  • 9 June - 25 June - First Meeting of the Drafting Committee, Lake Success, New York. Draft outline of an International Bill of Human Rights prepared by the UN Secretariat ("the Humphrey Draft"). Drafting Committee splits work into two documents: preparation of a declaration of human rights and a working paper on a draft international convention on human rights.
  • 2 December - 17 December - Second Session of the Commission on Human Rights, Geneva. Commission begins to consider work on three projects: a declaration on human rights, and international convention on human rights and measures for implementation and enforcement


  • 3 May - 21 May, Second Session of the Drafting Committee, Lake Success, New York.
  • 24 May - 18 June, Third Session of the Commission on Human Rights, Lake Success, New York. Commission adopts a draft Declaration and transmits it to the Economic and Social Council.
  • 26 August, Economic and Social Council transmits draft to the General Assembly.
  • 30 September - 7 December, Third Committee of General Assembly spends 81 meetings considering the Declaration. 168 resolutions for amendments to the draft, submitted and considered.
  • 1–4 December, Sub-committee of Third Committee charged with cross checking 5 official language versions.
  • 10 December, Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly

Further reading

Notes and references

  1. ^ The Declaration was drafted during the Chinese Civil War. P.C. Chang was appointed as a representative by the Republic of China, then the recognised government of China, but which was driven from mainland China and now administers only Taiwan and nearby islands.
  2. ^ Morsink, p 4
  3. ^ Johannes Morsink, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press, p 5
  4. ^ Glendon, pp 62-64
  5. ^ Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Chapter 10
  6. ^ http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/udhr/udhr_general/drafting_history_10.html

External links

Audio-visual Materials

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights — Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. C …   Wikipedia

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights — Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was adopted without dissent but with eight abstentions. Among its 30 articles are definitions of civil and political… …   Universalium

  • Human rights in the United States — In 1776, Thomas Jefferson proposed a philosophy of human rights inherent to all people in the Declaration of Independence, asserting that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that… …   Wikipedia

  • Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities — The Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities (or DHDR) was written for reinforcing the implementation of human rights under the auspices of the UNESCO and the interest of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and was proclaimed in 1998 …   Wikipedia

  • human rights — fundamental rights, esp. those believed to belong to an individual and in whose exercise a government may not interfere, as the rights to speak, associate, work, etc. [1785 95] * * * Rights that belong to an individual as a consequence of being… …   Universalium

  • Human rights in the United Kingdom — The United Kingdom has a long and established tradition of avowed respect for its subjects human rights. At the same time, the UK, like many nations, has also had a history of both de jure and de facto racial and ethnic religious discrimination,… …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights in France — The preamble of the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic, founded in 1958, recalls the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France has also ratified the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the European …   Wikipedia

  • European Convention on Human Rights — ECHR redirects here. For the Court which enforces the Convention, see European Court of Human Rights. Not to be confused with European Convention (1999 2000) or Convention on the Future of Europe. European Convention on Human Rights The… …   Wikipedia

  • The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy — Established 1933 Type Private Dean Stephen W. Bosworth …   Wikipedia

  • Declaration of Principles on Equality — The Declaration of Principles on Equality reflects a moral and professional consensus among human rights and equality experts.[1] It contains 27 principles that establish a new paradigm on equality, drawing on established and emerging principles… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”