Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Promotion of human rights was not a focus point for the representatives of the countries who gathered in 1945 in San Francisco to found the United Nations. But the horrors and brutality of the Second World War had convinced them of the need to include protection of human rights as one of the goals. When the UN General Assembly met for the first time in London in January and February 1946, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) appointed a “nuclear” commission to draw up a structure and mission for a commission on human rights. One of their crucial decisions was to draft an international bill of rights and recommend the means of implementing it when the Commission on Human Rights met. The Commission had representatives from 18 member nations, and Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States was unanimously elected as its chair at their first meeting on April 29, 1946. Eleanor Roosevelt’s passionate commitment to human rights, knowledge and skills she acquired as a political activist and reformer helped her to play a leading role in drafting the declaration.