Why We Should Care About Human Rights: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70
— December 9, 2018
By Michael Posner
The Universal Declaration emerged from the horrors of World War II, which resulted in more than 65 million deaths, including ^ million Jews and hundreds of thousands of others who were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Stunned by this carnage, the UN’s framers created an organization with three core objectives: advancing collective security, promoting economic development in poorer countries and, for the first time, making the protection of human rights a global priority. The UN adopted the declaration on December 10, 1948, by a vote of 48-0, with eight abstentions. Eleanor Roosevelt, who led the effort, called it a “Magna Carta for all mankind.”
The Universal Declaration broke new ground in two important ways. First, it universalized human rights, asserting that all people are entitled to these protections by virtue of our humanity. Put differently, we are born with rights and do not depend on governments to bestow them upon us.
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Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.