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This content is taken from the Amnesty International's online course, Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Join the course to learn more.

Where do human rights begin?

On the 10th anniversary of the UDHR in 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the Chair of the Commission of the United Nations which drafted the UDHR gave a speech called “Where Do Human Rights Begin?”. In her speech, she captured why human rights are relevant in our daily lives:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”


Take a moment to reflect on Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote. Do you agree with her statement? Why? Why not? Comment on the reflections of other learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Amnesty International