Celebrating 60 Years of Promoting Human Rights; the Wednesday Eassy Today Is International Human Rights Day, a Day That Marks 60 Years of the Adoption of the United Nations' Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Sofia Cavandoli Explains Why Its Affirmation of 'The Inherent Dignity of Humankind' Still Resonates as Powerfully as When It Was First Signed
Byline: Sofia Cavandoli
IN 1948 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all people and all nations.
Such a proclamation was one of the first collective expressions of an international community.
The 56 UN member states from different regions around the world affirmed the inherent dignity of humankind and placed the well-being of the individual at the heart of international law.
Born of a shared condemnation of the atrocities committed during World War II, the UDHR provided the world with the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights.
The declaration has been translated into 337 languages and has been the source of inspiration for hundreds of regional and international treaties and conventions.
The UDHR lays down a number of objectives and provides "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations".
Every "individual and every organ of society" shall promote "respect for these rights and freedoms. . . by progressive measures . . ."
These rights, also, known as first generation rights, include the right to life, to a fair trial, to freedom of expression, opinion and thought. The declaration condemns torture and slavery and prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy and the family home.
The ultimate goal of the declaration is "to secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of these rights."
Underlying the entire declaration is one basic fundamental value.
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
The universal declaration has set the stage for a system of international accountability that has been unparalleled in history.
International criminal tribunals have brought together countries to judge the war crimes of Germany after World War II, and later Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
The UN General Assembly has created working groups and is active in monitoring treaties and reporting on human rights abuses.
The declaration has created a platform for open dialogue among human rights organisations, the press and individuals about international standards Alongside such extraordinary achievements, the past 60 years have also demonstrated that - in the absence of political will and resources - respect for human rights remains a pledge on paper. …