The Development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
When the US Department of State committee that was authorized to work on plans for the United Nations (UN) first produced its Outline Plan to the President in 1943, there was no mention made of human rights. Human rights concerns were assumed to be included under the organizations’ general purpose, then conceived as promoting “through cooperative effort the social advancement of nations and peoples.” The big three powers (the United States, USSR, and the United Kingdom) were more concerned about making sure any international body did nothing to affect their sovereignty—international law (following the Treaty of Westphalia) held that how a nation treated its own people, with some rare exceptions, was basically its own business. The League of Nations had also taken this view despite being made aware of the atrocities of the First World War.
KeywordsUnited Nations Universal Declaration Geneva Convention Intellectual Tradition Confucian Tradition
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- 7.W. Korey, NGOs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “A Curious Grapevine” (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1998), p. 14.Google Scholar
- 8.See, in particular, M. A. Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York: Random House, 2002), pp. 235–241.Google Scholar
- 16.I have placed you at the very center of the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease glance round about you on all that the world contains. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine. (Quoted in S. McIntire and W. Burns, Speeches in World History [Infobase, 2009], p. 116.)Google Scholar
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