Crafting Universal Values: The UDHR Model, Context, and Process

  • Robin Ramcharan
  • Bertrand Ramcharan


Universal values in the UDHR were crafted between 1946 and 1948, in the Commission on Human Rights, and approved by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, with eight abstensions only. A Drafting Committee of the Commission was set up, initially with three members and then expanded to eight, which included Asian drafters from China, India, and Lebanon. Debates over the form and substance resulted in the UDHR Model, an authoritative list of “universal” rights, that would be non-binding and that would be followed by the negotiation of two conventions. The Declaration, drafted in the immediate aftermath of genocidal wars in Europe and Asia and amidst Asia’s struggle for self-determination from colonial rule, was the most intensively debated document in world history. A draft, compiled initially by Prof. John Humphrey in the UN Secretariat, was adopted by the Drafting Committee, debated in the Economic and Social Council and further scrutinized in the United Nations General Assembly. It is a political document that was very much influenced by Asian drafters and states from the Global South.


Human Rights Nuclear Missions Qing Code RightsAfrican Charter Mahatma GandhiGandhi 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Ramcharan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bertrand Ramcharan
    • 3
  1. 1.Webster UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Asia CentreBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Emeritus President, UPR InfoAlythUK

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