How the UDHR inspired other human rights treaties

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turned 70 in 2018. It continues to be a source of inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights. Since its adoption, it has paved the way for many legally binding international human rights treaties designed to protect the rights and freedoms it proclaims. The Declaration also enables us to measure the degree of respect for, and compliance with, international human rights standards.

Moving towards legally binding documents

In the decades after the Declaration was adopted, the international community has taken up a variety of internationally binding legal documents on the rights it proclaims. For example, the following treaties came into force in the 70s. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) protects, among others, our rights to fair trial, to be able to take part in public affairs and to freedom of peaceful assembly. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) protects, among many others, the rights to healthcare and education.

Focussing on the elimination of inequality and discrimination

Other legally binding documents which have been adopted since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protect the rights of specific groups of people, such as the Convention Against all forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1999) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Others have been adopted to protect people from specific human rights violations, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (1984) and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearance (2006).

Have a look at United Nations website and explore how other rights enshrined in the Declaration have been further defined in the last decades. You will find international standards on the rights of the child, the rights of LGBTI people, the rights of asylum seekers, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and more.

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This article is from the free online course:

Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Amnesty International