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Digital record of the UDHR

On its 60th anniversary, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has entered the digital era. A new website provides access to early handwritten and typewritten documents, resolutions, reports, statements, and meeting records related to the drafting of the Declaration.

Drafters discussing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - UN/PhotoThe Historical Record of the Drafting Process, a joint project of the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva, includes English and French versions of the records and reports.

From 1946 to 1948, delegates representing more than 50 countries worked on the Declaration that was to become the international standard of human rights. The UDHR was proclaimed by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948, and since then is widely regarded as forming part of customary international law.

The group that worked on the Declaration came from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee. With her were René Cassin of France, who composed the first draft of the Declaration, the Committee Rapporteur Charles Malik of Lebanon, Vice-Chairman Peng Chung Chang of China, and John Humphrey of Canada, Director of the UN’s Human Rights Division, who prepared the Declaration’s blueprint.

“The Universal Declaration was not merely congruent with some customs and foreign to other cultures. It drew its principles from many diverse traditions, and it made them more robust through a uniform codification,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “Only by attaining all our universal human rights will we be able to reach the higher standard of life and greater enjoyment of freedom that Eleanor Roosevelt and her co-drafters claimed for all of us 60 years ago.”

The UN Secretary-General led a year-long campaign to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from December 2007 to December 2008. .

February 2009