The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The document was designed for world leaders to guarantee the civil rights of every individual. The Commission responsible for the articles’ adoption was spearheaded by Eleanor D. Roosevelt. The original drafters of the document were Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon), Alexandre Bogomolov (USSR), Dr. Peng-chun Chang (China), René Cassin (France), Eleanor Roosevelt (US), Charles Dukes (United Kingdom), William Hodgson (Australia), Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile), and John P. Humphrey (Canada).
Within its Preamble, the document stated that:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
In 1996, then South African President Nelson Mandela adopted the Declaration of Human Rights to lead the country in a new direction. Two years later, at the country’s 50th anniversary, Mandela addressed the U.N. General Assembly challenging them to work harder to enforce the words of the declaration for years to come. He said, “The new constitution obliges us to strive to improve the quality of life of the people. In this sense, our national consensus recognizes that there is nothing else that can justify the existence of government but to redress the centuries of unspeakable privations, by striving to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, homelessness and disease. It obliges us, too, to promote the development of independent civil society structures.”
This week marks the Declaration of Human Rights’ 65th anniversary.
Below is the complete preamble of the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights.