Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 60 years

I hope that your news source of choice has a piece on the 60th anniversary of adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This statement is almost certainly the most important text of the 20th Century.

The Irish Times brought together a remarkable group of writers to reflect on the UDHR, so I recommend the web version of their project.

One welcome aspect of living in Ireland is the amount of attention paid to the big questions facing the whole world. It is now the International Year of Human Rights Learning, and so Ireland’s institutions have programmes that actually affect people. In the US, if such declarations are noted at all, it is usually either co-opted as a partisan rallying cry, or treated as political frivolity, like Particle Accelerator Day or Uno the Beagle Day. Some circles do take it seriously, but did you hear about the UDHR’s anniversay until just now?

I humbly suggest that you take interest in your humanity today, for 10-15 minutes. If you’ve never read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, do it today. If you have, take a look at that Irish Times website, or for an American perspective, read (or listen to) Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech from sixty years ago. (The inspiring stuff starts about one-third in, but the political context is interesting too.)

And you’re welcome, as always, to add your own reflections here.

2 Comments to “Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 60 years”

  1. Rachel Hester said...
    15 December 2008

    Wow, that’s amazing! I have never seen or heard about this document.
    Just another important item we should all have learned in high school, along with balancing a checkbook, how to properly use credit, and why you should vote. But no… it was more important to know how to cook pudding, square dance and pound my name into a piece of leather with little metal letters.
    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I will now email a copy to all my friends and relatives so they too can reflect.
    Happy Holidays.
    Rachel (from Iowa)

  2. Will said...
    19 December 2008

    Well, in defence of your high school, pudding is tasty. And you can’t eat human rights.

    A more progressive teacher would have made you pound your favorite article of the Universal Declaration into a piece of leather. Coll-eeeect-able!