How Has the Declaration of Human Rights Changed the World?


Peace News – TRANSCEND Media Service


13 Aug 2018 – This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. How has it changed the world as we know it?

In 1948 the Declaration was signed to prevent the horrors of WWII from re-occurring. It set up human rights standards for all and is the world’s most translated document, in over 500 languages. Many countries contributed, including Australia, China, Lebanon, the Soviet Union, the UK & the USA, and the UN Commission on Human Rights was formed with Eleanor Roosevelt as the first chair.

The declaration has spawned other important treaties against racial, gender, and ability discrimination. Now 198 countries allow women to vote, compared to 91 in 1948, 57 per cent of countries have a human rights institution and 111 countries have adopted press freedom laws.

But there is much work to be done. One in 10 children are still engaged in child labor, 250 million girls today were married before age 15, and 68.5 million people are fleeing war or persecution.

Campaigns like #StandUpforHumanRights strive to change this. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that when anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined. He encouraged others to take a pledge to support human rights:

 “I will stand up, I will raise my voice, I will take action, I will use my rights to stand up for your rights,” Mr Al Hussein said.

The Declaration appears as important today as it was 70 years ago.

“We could not have peace or an atmosphere in which peace could grow unless we recognized the rights of individual human beings.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt


International news today is driven by sensationalism. From conflict zones, we hear stories about killings, bombings, and the views of violent extremists. This type of coverage tends to inflame passions and perpetuate negative stereotypes, fueling distrust and violence. Peace News aims to present the other side – stories from conflict zones we often don’t hear. Our stories are about people taking risks for peace. We highlight the opinions of ordinary people who want non-violent solutions to their political differences. Our stories aren’t always about shootings and explosions, but they do tell you stories from war zones that hopefully go some way towards building trust and reconciliation. Founded by Dr Babak Bahador, and launched in 2015, Peace News is a non-partisan, independent, news agency. We are based in New Zealand and Washington D.C., USA, and Kate Roff is the founding, and current, editor.

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