What Is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. The vote was 48 in favor, none against, with eight abstentions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was an attempt to codify the basic rights that all human beings should enjoy without regard to race, color, gender, nationality or any other basis. Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the drafting committee, called it "a Magna Carta" for the human race. While the Declaration was the work of several individuals, and all of the articles were discussed and extensively revised by Assembly members, the first draft was written by John Humphrey, a Canadian professor of law and the United Nations Secretariat's Director of Human Rights.

The complete list of those voting in favor is as follows: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Burma, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Siam, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Those abstaining were Belarus, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, South Africa, the USSR and Yugoslavia.