Thursday, December 10, 2009

Commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10 December 1948. This photo (at left), taken on Human Rights Day in 1950, shows Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, with famed contralto Marian Anderson, and president of the fifth session of the UN General Assembly Nasrollah Entezam, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, during the intermission of the "Special Program of commemoration of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," at which Marian Anderson performed.
The focus of this year's Human Rights Day is non-discrimination. Discrimination is an attack on the very notion of human rights – a denial that everyone is equal in dignity and worth. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated explicitly that they considered the non-discrimination principle to be the basis of the Declaration.
Video footage and photographs of the drafting and adoption of the UDHR, along with links to some of the drafting documents, are now available on-line through the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law. Video footage includes:
  • 9 June 1947: Establishment of the Commission on Human Rights drafting committee on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; video shows statements by Eleanor Roosevelt (USA) and William Hodgson (Australia).
  • 23 September 1948: Discussion of the UDHR in the Third Session of the UN General Assembly; video shows statements by George Marshall (USA) and Zygmunt Modzelewski (Poland).
  • 9-10 December 1948: Discussion of the UDHR in the Third Session of the UN General Assembly; video shows statements by Charles Malik (Lebanon), Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile), René Cassin (France), and Zdonek Augenthaler (Czechoslovakia).
  • 10 December 1948: Video footage of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showing statements by Ernest Davies (United Kingdom) and Campos Ortiz (Mexico); the roll-call vote; and the statement by UNGA President H. V. Evatt (Australia) after the vote.

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