In 2023, marking 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we reflect on its significant influence on international, European, and national legal orders. Drafted in response to the horrors of World War II, the Declaration has become a cornerstone in the global fight for human rights.
Origin of the UDHR
Following World War I, and especially after World War II, the need for an international human rights system became evident. The establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and its Charter laid the groundwork for the UDHR. The Declaration, adopted on December 10, 1948, under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, marked a significant breakthrough in international human rights law.
Structure and Content of the UDHR
The UDHR contains thirty articles encompassing a wide range of rights, including the right to life, freedom, prohibition of torture and slavery, and the right to education. These rights are categorized into personal freedoms, security, political rights, economic and social rights, and social and legal rights.
Although the UDHR is formally non-binding, many of its provisions are considered part of international customary law. This means they influence the development of international human rights treaties and the establishment of monitoring mechanisms for these rights.
Influence in Europe
In Europe, the UDHR contributed to the formation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and has influenced the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The EU has also its own Charter of Fundamental Rights, inspired by the UDHR.
At the national level, the influence of the UDHR is noticeable in the constitutions of many countries and in the jurisprudence of national legal courts. Although the UDHR does not always have direct legal force in national legal orders, it forms a significant inspiration for national legislation and jurisprudence.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 75 years after its establishment, remains a fundamental instrument in the promotion of human rights worldwide. Its influence extends across international, European, and national levels and continues to be crucial for the development of human rights norms and practices.