Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Small Flag of the United Nations ZP.svg
UN General Assembly
Resolution 217
Date: December 10, 1948
Meeting: 183
Identifier: A / RES / 217 / A- (III) ( document )

Poll: Pro: 48  Enth. : 8  Cons: 0
Object: A / RES / 3/217 (III). International Bill
of Human Rights

Result: Accepted
The United Nations flag
Eleanor Roosevelt with a printout of the UDHR in English (Universal Declaration of Human Rights , November 1949)
Special postage stamp from 1998 for the 50th anniversary of the declaration
2 euro commemorative coin 2018 for the 70th anniversary of the declaration

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (A / RES / 217, UN-Doc. 217 / A- (III)) or AEMR for short is a legally non-binding resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations on human rights . It was announced on December 10, 1948 in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.

"All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

- Art. 1 UDHR : Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th, the day of proclamation, has been celebrated as the day of human rights since 1948 .


The declaration of human rights consists of 30 articles. These contain fundamental views on the rights that everyone should be entitled to, "without any distinction, for example according to race, skin color, gender, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status." And regardless of the legal relationship he has with the country in which he is staying. With translations in more than 460 languages according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights , it is one of the most translated texts.

The preamble already declares “ freedom , justice and peace in the world ” as the fundamental intention , and belief in basic human rights, in “the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equality of men and women ”.

Legal status

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an ideal that should be used as an orientation, not a binding legal source of international law , because the General Assembly of the United Nations cannot create international law. As such, they are not justiciable, not enforceable. It was introduced with UN resolution 217 A (III) of the UN General Assembly. The declaration is therefore not a treaty under international law and is therefore not binding as such. Its status as a resolution also does not give it any binding effect, since according to the UN Charter only resolutions of the Security Council are binding and there is no corresponding regulation for resolutions of the General Assembly. Some articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were adopted in the two international covenants on civil and political rights ("Civil Pact", BPR) and on economic, social and cultural rights ("Social Pact", ESKR), both concluded in 1966 and entered into force in 1976 ; In contrast to the UDHR, these provisions have thus become binding international agreements.



In the modern era, the formulation took place in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, which had a great influence on the United States' Declaration of Independence in the same year:

"We consider these truths to be established, that all human beings were created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness."

There they are already defined as "inalienable" rights. The Declaration of Human and Civil Rights of the French National Assembly of August 26, 1789 takes up these ideas and develops them further, based on the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment that were current at the time . Some of the French constitutions adopted since then ( 1793 , 1798, 1848, 1946) begin or have started with a preamble that addresses human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers to this legal tradition with the words “in the spirit of brotherhood” and “freedoms without any distinction” .

One of the first attempts to extend the validity of human and civil rights beyond Europe and America was the declaration of Africans' Claims in South Africa adopted by the African National Congress (ANC) on December 16, 1943 .

The declaration of human rights by the member states of the United Nations is a direct reaction to the terrible events of World War II, in which the non-recognition and contempt for human rights led to acts of barbarism. In accordance with Article 68 of the Charter of the United Nations , the UN Human Rights Commission was founded in 1946 as an expert commission of the UN Economic and Social Council . Aware of the shortcomings in the content of the Charter with regard to human rights, the first major task of the newly founded commission was to draw up an international human rights code (International Bill of Rights) . At the end of January 1947, the commission consisting of 18 experts began its work under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt .

The Canadian lawyer John Peters Humphrey , the Lebanese politician and philosopher Charles Malik , the French lawyer René Cassin , the Chinese philosopher Peng-chun Chang , Eleanor Roosevelt , the widow of the former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt , played a major role in the drafting . and Jacques Maritain , a French philosopher.

The contents of the old Persian Cyrus cylinder from the 6th century BC are partially preserved . As the first human rights declaration.

The negotiations

The negotiating climate was already heavily influenced by the conflict between East and West . Its dimensions soon spanned the whole globe and were to trigger hundreds of wars and conflicts with massive human rights violations. Eleanor Roosevelt soon had to give up the plan for a human rights pact that was binding under international law and, in view of the constantly hardening fronts, had to decide to proceed in several stages. Initially, she only had to concentrate on drafting a non-binding declaration of human rights. The agreement on the legally binding form of an international treaty was postponed until later, because at that time it not only seemed very time-consuming, but above all unsafe in comparison to a general declaration, which would basically only be a mere recommendation. What one wanted to achieve first, however, was a definition of the stock of human rights to be protected in order to express a universal legal conception. But this, too, as soon became apparent, was to be more complicated than previously suspected. While the western states wanted to include only political and civil liberties in the declaration, the Soviet Union and other socialist states insisted on the same importance of economic and social rights. Against the background of all these differences of opinion, the version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, finally adopted on December 10, 1948, revealed itself to be the result of a difficult compromise and was general enough to allow for differently accentuated interpretations of human rights.


On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed with 48 votes in favor, 0 against and 8 abstentions. The abstentions came from the Soviet Union , Ukraine , Belarus , Poland , the ČSSR , Yugoslavia , Saudi Arabia and South Africa .

Other basic human rights charters

The European Convention on Human Rights  (ECHR) of November 4, 1950 is largely influenced by the UN Charter. In the form of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union  (GRCh, 2000/2009), it formed the basis of efforts towards a common EU constitution.

In 1990 the organization of the Islamic Conference adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights , the content of which differs considerably from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although the wording is similar. It guarantees z. B. No equality between men and women and no right to free choice of religion or spouse. It also makes all the rights presented subject to Islamic Sharia law .

The Arab Charter of Human Rights was adopted by the Arab League in 2004 and is closer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In July 2010 the UN General Assembly declared the right to water a human right by a majority . However, for the same reasons as in the case of the Charter of Human Rights, this declaration is also not binding under international law.

List of fundamental rights

  • Article 1 ( liberty, equality, fraternity )
    All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2 ( prohibition of discrimination )
    Everyone has the right to the rights and freedoms proclaimed in this declaration without any distinction, for example according to race, skin color, gender, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, assets, birth or other status.
    Furthermore, no distinction may be made on the basis of the political, legal or international position of the country or territory to which a person belongs, regardless of whether this is independent, under trusteeship, has no self-government or is otherwise restricted in its sovereignty.
  • Article 3 ( right to life and liberty )
    Everyone has the right to life, freedom and personal security.
  • Article 4 (Prohibition of Slavery and the Slave Trade)
    Nobody should be held in slavery or serfdom ; Slavery and the slave trade are prohibited in all their forms.
  • Article 5 ( prohibition of torture )
    Nobody should be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 6 (recognition as a legal person)
    Everyone has the right to be recognized as having legal capacity everywhere.
  • Article 7 ( equality before the law )
    All people are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection under the law without distinction. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in breach of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
  • Article 8 (right to legal protection )
    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy in the competent domestic courts against acts which violate their constitutional or legal fundamental rights.
  • Article 9 (protection from arrest and deportation)
    No one may be arbitrarily arrested , detained, or expelled from the country .
  • Article 10 ( right to a fair trial )
    Everyone is entitled to fair and public trial in an independent and impartial tribunal in full equality in establishing their rights and obligations and in the event of a criminal charge brought against them .
  • Article 11 ( presumption of innocence )
    1. Anyone charged with a criminal offense has the right to be presumed innocent, as long as his guilt has not been proven in accordance with the law in a public trial in which he has had all the guarantees necessary to defend himself.
    2. No one may be convicted of any act or omission that was not punishable under national or international law at the time it was committed. Likewise, no heavier punishment may be imposed than the punishment threatened at the time the criminal act was committed.
  • Article 12 (freedom of the individual)
    Nobody should be exposed to arbitrary interference with their private life , family, home or correspondence, or damage to their honor or reputation. Everyone has the right to legal protection against such interference or interference.
  • Article 13 ( freedom of movement and emigration)
    1. Everyone has the right to move freely within a state and to choose where to stay.
    2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.
  • Article 14 (right of asylum)
    1. Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries .
    2. This right cannot be exercised in the event of a criminal prosecution which actually takes place for crimes of a non-political nature or for acts that violate the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 15 (right to nationality)
    1. Everyone has the right to a nationality .
    2. No one may be arbitrarily withdrawn from their citizenship or denied the right to change their citizenship.
  • Article 16 (marriage, family)
    1. Men and women of full age have the right to marry and to raise a family without any restriction on the basis of race, nationality or religion . They have equal rights at marriage, during marriage and when it is dissolved.
    2. A marriage may only be concluded if the future spouses freely and unrestrictedly agree.
    3. The family is the natural basic unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
  • Article 17 (right to property)
    1. Everyone has the right to own property alone and in association with others .
    2. Nobody may be arbitrarily deprived of their property.
  • Article 18 (freedom of thought, conscience, religion)
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought , conscience and religion ; This right includes the freedom to change one's religion or belief, as well as the freedom to profess one's religion or belief alone or in community with others, publicly or privately, through teaching, practice, worship and cult activities.
  • Article 19 (freedom of expression and information)
    Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and expression; This right includes the freedom to hold opinions unhindered and to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas through media of any kind and regardless of borders.
  • Article 20 ( freedom of assembly and association )
    1. All people have the right to peacefully assemble and to form associations.
    2. Nobody should be forced to belong to an association.
  • Article 21 (universal and equal voting rights )
    1. Everyone has the right to participate in the shaping of the public affairs of his country directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public office in their own country.
    3. The will of the people forms the basis for the authority of public power; this will must be expressed through regular, unadulterated, general and equal elections with secret voting or in an equivalent free electoral process.
  • Article 22 (right to social security)
    Everyone as a member of society has the right to social security and the right to enjoy, through domestic action and international cooperation, and taking into account the organization and means of each state, the economic, social and cultural rights necessary for his or her dignity free development of his personality are indispensable.
  • Article 23 (right to work, equal pay)
    1. Everyone has the right to work , to free choice of profession, to just and satisfactory working conditions and to protection from unemployment.
    2. Everyone, without distinction, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    3. Everyone who works has the right to fair and satisfactory remuneration, which ensures him and his family an existence in accordance with human dignity, supplemented if necessary by other social protection measures.
    4. Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions to protect their interests .
  • Article 24 (right to rest and leisure)
    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, and in particular to reasonable limits on working hours and regular paid vacation .
  • Article 25 (right to welfare)
    1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living that ensures his and his family's health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social benefits, as well as the right to security in the event of unemployment, illness, invalidity or widowhood in old age as well as any other loss of his means of subsistence due to circumstances beyond his control.
    2. Mothers and children are entitled to special care and support. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock , enjoy the same social protection.
  • Article 26 (right to education)
    1. Everyone has the right to education . Education is free of charge, at least primary and basic education. Primary education is compulsory. Technical and vocational education must be made widely available and higher education must be open to all equally according to their abilities.
    2. Education must focus on the full development of the human personality and on strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It must contribute to understanding, tolerance and friendship between all nations and all racial or religious groups and be conducive to the work of the United Nations in maintaining peace.
    3. Parents have a primary right to choose the type of education to be given to their children.
  • Article 27 (freedom of cultural life)
    1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to share in scientific advancement and its achievements.
    2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the intellectual and material interests that accrue to him as the author of works of science, literature or art.
  • Article 28 (social and international order)
    Everyone has the right to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms proclaimed in this declaration can be fully realized.
  • Article 29 ( basic obligations )
    1. Everyone has duties towards the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone is subject only to the restrictions that the law provides solely for the purpose of ensuring the recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and the just requirements of morality, public order and the common good in one to satisfy democratic society.
    3. In no event may these rights and freedoms be exercised in contravention of the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 30 (rule of interpretation)
    Nothing in this declaration may be interpreted as conferring any right for any state, group or person to engage in any activity or to commit an act which aims to eliminate the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration.

Further information

Conferences and public relations

The first world human rights conference took place in 1968 in Tehran. The second world human rights conference was held by the United Nations from June 14-25, 1993 in Vienna , a few years after the end of the Cold War and the bloc confrontation. In the final declaration, almost all of the 171 states assembled unanimously committed to their human rights obligations.


An initiative launched in 2010 was looking for a universal logo for human rights . From July 2011, a jury selected the top ten from over 15,300 suggestions from more than 190 countries. The winning logo comes from Predrag Stakić from Serbia and combines the silhouette of a hand with that of a bird.

In Germany, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and the Frankfurt Book Fair , together with ARTE , ZDF and Der Spiegel , have launched a campaign alliance “WE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE” to mark the 70th anniversary of the Charter . Together they want to show how important it is to defend universal rights. Amnesty International supports the campaign, which will run from September 2018 and will culminate at the book fair in mid-October. Any person or institution can declare their support.

“Human rights are universal. They affirm the dignity and worth of the human personality. They are the basis for the work of the book and media industry worldwide. The right to freedom of expression and publication, to education, intellectual property and the right to hold meetings are essential for the functioning of our industry. We can only publish freely and unrestrictedly where human rights apply. They are the prerequisite for spreading knowledge, sharing ideas across borders, telling stories everywhere and inspiring people all over the world. 147 countries have recognized human rights, but many of them violate these universal fundamental rights every day ... We appeal to politicians to stand up for human rights without exception. "

- Declaration of the action alliance, August 2018

Ecological interpretation of human rights

The connection between general human rights and environmental protection consists in the elementary “prerequisites such as food, water, a stable global climate, peace or simply life and health” for the existence of people. Food and water as subsistence level, for example, are “potentially precarious due to climate change, at least in parts of the world”.

The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN), which are intended to secure sustainable development on an economic, social and ecological level , represent one approach to responding to these challenges . At the 2015 World Summit for Sustainable Development , 17 overarching goals were adopted, which are explained and substantiated by 169 sub-goals.

See also


  • Bardo Fassbender : Declaration of Human Rights. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New translation, synopsis, explanation, materials. Sellier. European Law Publisher, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-86653-134-5 (German, English).
  • Lynn Hunt : Inventing Human Rights. A history. Norton & Company, New York 2007, ISBN 0-393-06095-0 (English).
  • Reinhard Pohanka (ed.): Documents of freedom. Marixverlag, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-86539-950-2 , pp. 170-181.

Web links

Commons : Universal Declaration of Human Rights  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Resolution of the General Assembly 217 A (III). Universal Declaration of Human Rights . In: UN.org (PDF)
  2. a b Art. 1 . In: Universal Declaration of Human Rights . December 10, 1948 ( un.org [accessed October 13, 2011]).
  3. a b Art. 2 . In: Universal Declaration of Human Rights . December 10, 1948 ( un.org [accessed October 13, 2011]).
  4. Preamble to the Declaration . In: Universal Declaration of Human Rights . December 10, 1948 ( ONHCR ( Memento of 18 November 2008 at the Internet Archive [accessed 10 December 2008])).
  5. Jan Feddersen: 70 Years of the “Declaration of Human Rights”: Focus on the goal, not reality . In: The daily newspaper: taz . December 9, 2018, ISSN  0931-9085 ( taz.de [accessed December 10, 2018]).
  6. ^ HJ Steiner, P. Alston (Ed.): International Human Rights in Context . 2nd Edition. Oxford 2000, pp. 151 (English). See also Art. 38 Paragraph 1 of the ICJ Statute, which lists the sources of international law.
  7. Introduction of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights via UN Resolution 217 A (III)
  8. Art. 25 UN Charter.
  9. ^ Constitution of October 13, 1946 ; 1848
  10. ^ The resolution of the UN General Assembly UN-Doc. 217 / A- (III), December 12, 1948 . In: Information from the GfpA . No. 58 , September 1998 ( uibk.ac.at [PDF; 800 kB ; accessed on December 10, 2008]).
  11. ^ Christian Tomuschat: Global Human Rights Policy . In: Karl Kaiser, Hans-Peter Schwarz (ed.): World politics in the new century . Baden-Baden 2000, p. 431-441 .
  12. However, this is an infrequent interpretation; In general, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 is the first human rights declaration , cf. for example Lynn Hunt: Inventing Human Rights. A history . Norton & Company, New York 2007, pp. 25 (English).
  13. ^ Sven Bernhard Gareis, Johannes Varwick: The United Nations. Tasks, instruments and reforms . 4th edition. Opladen, Farmington Hills 2006, pp. 176 .
  14. Peter J. Opitz: General Declaration of Human Rights . In: Helmut Vogler (Ed.): Lexicon of the United Nations . Munich / Vienna 2000, p. 331-336 .
  15. United Nations website: General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Access to Clean Water, Sanitation (July 28, 2010), minutes on the positions and votes of the member countries, last accessed on March 21, 2011
  16. Source: UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management German Translation Service (as of October 30, 2009) [1]
  17. Website about the logo
  18. ^ Campaign site
  19. Felix Ekardt : Böll.Thema 1/2015: Ecology and Freedom: Human rights and freedom of intergenerational equity. (PDF) The concerns of future generations can, for good legal and philosophical reasons, claim the same validity as the freedom of the living. In: boell.de. Retrieved on August 31, 2015 : “One could casually speak of an“ ecological ”interpretation of human rights, because risk situations that span space and time are primarily those from the area of ​​environmental protection. [...] Human rights are the right to self-determination or to freedom and to elementary prerequisites for freedom. Legally and morally, the right to the elementary prerequisites for freedom of life, health and subsistence level can be considered as the central justification for environmental protection. For example, subsistence levels are food and water. Both are potentially precarious, at least in parts of the world, due to climate change. Subsistence levels are also a sufficiently stable climate, breathable air and sufficiently stable ecosystems. Such freedom requirement rights are not always expressly listed in human rights declarations under international, European and national law. That is why they often have a harder time recognizing them than the classic civil-political rights to freedom of expression, assembly or property. But these do not make sense without the freedom precondition rights. Because freedom only exists if its elementary requirements such as food, water, a stable global climate, peace or simply life and health are guaranteed. "
  20. Jens Martens, Wolfgang Obenland: The 2030 Agenda, Global Future Goals for Sustainable Development. (PDF) Global Policy Forum, terre des hommes, February 2016, accessed on January 20, 2017 .