As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 2023, it’s crucial to recognize its monumental impact on global human rights advocacy. Often referred to as the “Magna Carta for all mankind,” the UDHR has been a cornerstone in shaping the modern understanding of human rights.
The Genesis of the Universal Declaration
In the aftermath of World War II, the world was in desperate need of a new moral compass. The United Nations General Assembly took on the monumental task of drafting the UDHR, a document that would serve as a universal standard for human dignity and freedom. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the first meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1947, setting the stage for what would become a groundbreaking document. The commission meticulously analyzed existing constitutions and human rights laws, drawing inspiration from the English Magna Carta, the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
The Road to Adoption
The journey to the UDHR’s adoption was far from smooth. It took eight grueling plenary meetings of the UN General Assembly and 81 committee meetings to finalize the text. Yet, on December 10, 1948, the UDHR was adopted with overwhelming support—48 countries in favor, eight abstentions, and zero oppositions—at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. This historic moment marked the birth of International Human Rights Day, celebrated every December 10th since 1950.
The Four Pillars of Human Rights
The UDHR is structured around four main categories of rights:
- Inalienable Rights: These include the right to life, liberty, and freedom from slavery and torture.
- Civil Rights: These encompass legal recognition, freedom of movement, and the right to own property.
- Political Rights: These involve freedom of thought, expression, and the right to participate in government.
- Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: These include the right to work, education, and a decent standard of living.
Uzbekistan’s Commitment to Human Rights
Uzbekistan has been a steadfast supporter of the UDHR since gaining independence in 1991. The country has integrated the UDHR’s principles into its Constitution and has joined over 80 major international human rights treaties. In 2020, Uzbekistan introduced the “For the Protection of Human Rights” badge, awarded annually on International Human Rights Day to recognize outstanding contributions in this field.
A Future Built on Human Rights
Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2022-2026 outlines the nation’s commitment to furthering human rights. The country actively participated in the global campaign celebrating the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, under the slogan “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.” A recent visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Uzbekistan saw the organization of a round table discussion involving over 600 university students, emphasizing the country’s dedication to educating the next generation on human rights.
A Universal Legacy
The UDHR holds the record for being the most translated document globally, available in over 550 languages and dialects. In Uzbekistan, the National Center for Human Rights has taken the initiative to translate the declaration into Uzbek and Karakalpak languages, ensuring its wide dissemination.
As we celebrate this 75th anniversary, let us remember that the UDHR is more than just a document; it is a living testament to humanity’s shared values and aspirations for a world where dignity, freedom, and justice are the birthright of all.
By Mirzatillo Tillabaev
First Deputy Director
National Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Doctor of Law, Professor