Last week President Obama proclaimed December 10, 2016, as Human Rights Day and the week beginning December 10, 2016, as Human Rights Week, an annual observance to commemorate the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here are five facts you should know about international human rights:
1. Prior to the 1940s there were a number of documents, such as the the British Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights, that advanced the recognition of human rights. But few documents were recognized internationally as applying to all people at all times in all nations. During World War II the push for universal recognition of inalienable human rights was aided by the Atlantic Charter and by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech before the United States Congress in 1941. These ideals were also transmitted in a pamphlet called, “The United Nations fight for the Four Freedoms: The Rights of All Men — Everywhere.”
2. The atrocities of the Nazis caused the international community to recognize a need for human rights to be established as an international legal status. More than 1,300 American non-governmental organizations joined together in placing newspaper ads calling for human rights to be an integral part of any future international organization, and called for the United Nations Charter to include a clear and substantive commitment to human rights. On April 25, 1945, representatives from forty-six nations gathered in San Francisco to form the United Nations. They responded to the demand by mentioning human rights five times in the UN Charter. The charter also established a commission “for the promotion of human rights.” This newly created “Commission on Human Rights” spent three years drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).