Unity, Diversity and Justice

a virtual exhibition from the Diefenbaker Center Canada

Objections to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Objections to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

While the UDHR was, and remains, lauded as the first document to formalise international human rights principles, objections to it surfaced almost immediately. Some commented that it was largely a product of western thought and worldviews. Questions arose over how successfully the UDHR defined "universal" human rights, and whether it effectively encompassed the cultural mores and religious beliefs of a diverse world.

Eleanore Roosevelt with a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Eleanore Roosevelt with a copy of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

There were also uncertainties as to the usefulness of a declaration that was not enforceable against individual nation states committing human rights abuses against their own people. The Declaration, after all, was not a document created by a global government that could legislate international laws. For its part, Canada continues to play a central role in the work of the UN and continues to endorse and ratify worldwide human rights treaties.

 

“Throughout many centuries of political struggle to bring about human unity, the climax has now been reached with the preparation of the document in which 58 nations had expressed their common ideal and their… thoughts regarding fundamental human rights. The historic moment has come to proclaim the dignity of society, as well as legal standards which will lead him towards a new era of justice and culture.”

(Jorge Carrera Andrade, Representative for Ecuador, United Nations, 1948)

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