Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Tomorrow, December 10, 2008, marks the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in the aftermath of World War II to demonstrate the world's commitment to and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The then 58 members of the United Nations represented many different political ideologies, cultures and religions, yet were able to come together and agree on basic human rights that belong to every person everywhere. While the Universal Declaration is not a binding legal document, it has inspired many national constitutions, other domestic laws, and international treaties, and has contributed to the development of customary international law. The United States was a leader in the preparation and adoption of the Universal Declaration. In fact, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the committee that prepared the draft of the Universal Declaration. On this 60th Anniversary, it is time for the United States to reclaim its role as a leader in the field of human rights and demonstrate its commitment to the ideals set forth in the Universal Declaration. The United States can do so by increasing its participation in international human rights bodies, by providing more funding for international human rights initiatives, and by ratifying international human rights treaties such as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.