The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (UDHR) was developed largely as a response to the barbarity of the World War II. It affirms the promotion of universal respect and observance of human rights and the dignity and worth of the person. The declaration was to be a common standard for every individual and every organ of society to keep in mind.   At the core of the declaration was non-discrimination and respect for the individual dignity of every person. During its drafting there were a number of debates, including the importance of cultural and other factors in the context of rights, the connection between rights and responsibilities and the role of spiritual values in the welfare of the individual.

The declaration consists of 30 articles. Article 1 asserts the right of all people to freedom and equality in dignity and rights, Article 2 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or social origin, property, birth or other status. Articles 3 – 21 outline civil and political rights, including the right to participate in the government. Every person as the right to life, liberty and security, freedom of movement, thought, conscience and religion and freedom of association and the right to participate in government through genuinely free elections. And finally Articles 22-30 detail economic, social and cultural rights such as the rights of people to work, to join trade unions and participate freely in their cultural rights in their communities.

The lack of legal status of the Declaration has helped to give it moral authority, for example, in the condemnation by the UN of racist regimes in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It has made it flexible enough to help ground demands for increased human rights even against authoritarian governments. It has also served as a foundation of for later instruments, such as the International Convention on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the development of similar...