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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21st Century

Gordon Brown


Gordon Brown

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When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948,1 the world was a very different place. Years of war had left the better part of two continents in disarray. A geopolitical reordering saw an Iron Curtain fall across a continent and a Cold War rise across the globe. And the world was waking up to the unconscionable horrors of the Holocaust. From the ruins of the Second World War came a call to enshrine fundamental human rights.

Facilitating this moment of global introspection was a Philosophers’ Committee under the direction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Committee enlisted leading thinkers – from Mahatma Gandhi to Aldous Huxley – to contribute their insights about a proposed Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The work of the Philosophers’ Committee was then passed to the UN Human Rights Commission, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, a tireless fighter whose supreme and lasting achievement was shaping a hum...


Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom UN Special Envoy for Global Education

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