March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: Seventy-five years ago, the UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at a meeting in Paris – laying one of the foundation stones of the international order that emerged following the horrors of World War II.


  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, stands as a pivotal document in the realm of international human rights.
  • Consisting of a concise preamble and 30 articles, the UDHR articulates fundamental rights and freedoms.

Foundational Principles and Key Rights

  • The UDHR underscores the inherent dignity and equality of all individuals (Article 1).
  • It asserts the entitlement of everyone to the rights and freedoms enumerated without discrimination based on various factors (Article 2).
  • It safeguards crucial liberties such as the right to life, liberty, and security of person (Article 3), prohibits slavery and torture (Articles 4 and 5), and ensures equality before the law and fair trials (Articles 7-11).
  • Additionally, the UDHR guarantees the rights to seek asylum, freedom of religion, opinion, expression, assembly, and education, emphasizing the universal nature of these rights.

Historical Context and Drafting Process

  • Amid the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, global leaders sought to prevent future atrocities by establishing a roadmap for securing individual rights universally.
  • The drafting committee, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, comprised members from various countries and finalized the UDHR after contributions from over 50 UN member countries.

Legal Status and Global Influence

  • While not a legally binding treaty by itself, the UDHR’s principles have significantly influenced many nations’ laws and served as the bedrock of international human rights law.
  • Its impact is evident in over 70 human rights treaties at both global and regional levels, guiding legal frameworks worldwide.

Contemporary Challenges and Relevance

  • As the UDHR commemorates its 75th anniversary, the world faces numerous human rights challenges amidst conflicts, crises, and violations across different regions.
  • Criticisms of the document include misuse for political agendas and selective observance by various governments.

Continuing Significance and Reflection

  • Despite criticisms and challenges, the UDHR remains a foundational document, inspiring movements against discrimination, apartheid, and oppression globally.
  • It stands as a testament to the possibility of a unified global vision for human rights and serves as a reminder of the imperatives of equality and dignity for all individuals.
  • N. Human Rights Chief emphasizes the relevance of the UDHR and underscores the importance of honouring its successes and learning from its failures, asserting that human rights are intrinsic to every human being.


  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a product of the post-WWII global order, holds immense significance in guiding and shaping human rights law and advocacy worldwide.
  • Despite challenges and criticisms, its enduring legacy underscores the vital importance of respecting and safeguarding the fundamental rights and dignity of every individual.


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