International human rights at 70

Has the Enlightenment project run aground?

Authored by: David P. Forsythe

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763


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Seven decades after the adoption of the 1945 U.N. Charter and then passage of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an appropriate time to take stock. As experts know, the Charter was the first general treaty to obligate every state member to “promote … universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all …” (Article 55). There was nothing similar in the League of Nations Covenant. The U.N. General Assembly, acting on the work of the now defunct Human Rights Commission, subsequently laid out 30 human rights standards in its Universal Declaration—a non-binding resolution adopted on December 10, 1948 covering civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

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