Photo: Un Photo
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone in human history. It was signed in Paris on 10 December 1948 – 70 years ago.
To mark the 70th anniversary, we want to honour some of the heroes who held the pen.
The Declaration was drafted by diplomats of different religious, cultural and legal backgrounds from all regions of the world. One of the them was René Cassin from France.
During the First World War, René Cassin was seriously injured by a bullet. He then decided to devote his life to fighting for peace and human rights.
After the Second World War he was part of the French delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights and helped to draft the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. In 1949 he became vice chair and in 1955 chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
With his background as a lawyer, René Cassin found it difficult regarding the Declaration as a document merely of moral value – he argued that it should be legally binding.
“No country, not even the most advanced, can pride itself on fulfilling all the articles of the Declaration.”
In 1959 he was appointed judge of the European Court of Human Rights and became its president in 1965. Two years later, Cassin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his major contributions in the area of human rights.
When Cassin was informed he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he said:
“I am very happy. It is not given to every man to have the luck to learn law, to teach it, to make it as a judge and promote it internationally as an international judge … I would be happier if there were a little more justice in the world.”
Today, 70 years after the Declaration was signed, demanding justice and equal rights is still one of the UN’s central tasks.
Respect for human rights has increased since 1948, but today democracy and human rights are being challenged around the world. This requires their defenders to make their voices heard.
Sweden will always stand up for human rights.