The Universal Declaration at 50

Changing the world?

December 10 marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nation's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe that the continuing impact of this historic document is changing the world for the better, even though doubters can point to considerable contrary evidence.

On the 44th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, for example, ethnic cleansing and mass rape began in Bosnia. The Declaration's 46th anniversary witnessed the genocide of nearly a million human beings in Rwanda. During this 50th year, Colombia's leading human rights lawyer was assassinated. Prisoners continue to be tortured in Turkey and elsewhere, and in our own country people are on death row following trials that demean basic standards of due process. Respect for the Universal Declaration remains far from universal.


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