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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21st Century

Gordon Brown


Diane C. Yu

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1The Global Institute for Advanced Study at New York University and the NYU Office of the President were pleased to provide academic, financial, and administrative support for the work of the Global Citizenship Commission, from the first meeting of the Philosophers’ Committee in the fall of 2012 to the present day. The vision of Gordon Brown in undertaking this vital work for submission to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has inspired all of us, and we hope that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21st Century will make a profound and lasting impact.

2As Executive Director of the Commission, I wish to acknowledge a number of individuals and institutions that helped make this report possible. I am grateful to the members of the Philosophers’ Committee – and its Chair, Jeremy Waldron – whose brilliant analysis provided the academic underpinning of the report. I want to thank the GCC Steering Committee, in which I had the pleasure of participating alongside the Committee Chair, Paul Boghossian, and members Anthony Appiah, Emma Rothschild, Robert Shrum, and Jeremy Waldron. Melissa Friesen (2014–2016) and Michael Patullo (2013–2014) served as Staff Directors to the Commission, providing outstanding administrative and logistical support to Commission Chair Gordon Brown and the Commissioners. Andrew Hilland, Director of Research and Secretary to the Commission, was invaluable in helping to produce the final version of the report. In addition, this report would not have been possible without the support of John Sexton and Andrew Hamilton, the immediate past and current Presidents of NYU, respectively.

3I am grateful for the assistance and support of the following people in hosting meetings and public-facing events of the GCC: Timothy O’Shea (Principal, University of Edinburgh), Charlie Jeffery (Vice Principal for Public Policy and Impact, University of Edinburgh), and Martyn Evans (Chief Executive, Carnegie Trust UK) for the Commission’s meeting in Edinburgh in October 2013; Jürgen Fohrmann (former Rector, University of Bonn), Michael Forster (Alexander von Humboldt Professor, Chair for Theoretical Philosophy, and Co-Director of the International Center for Philosophy, University of Bonn), Markus Gabriel (Chair for Epistemology and Co-Director of the International Center for Philosophy, University of Bonn), Dieter Sturma (Chair for Philosophy of Ethics and the Biosciences and Director of the Institute for Science and Politics, University of Bonn), and Stefan Zimmermann (International Center for Philosophy, University of Bonn) for the Commission’s meeting in Bonn in May 2014; and Klaus Schwab (Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum), Alfred Bloom (Vice Chancellor, NYU Abu Dhabi), Fabio Piano (Provost, NYU Abu Dhabi), Reindert Falkenburg, Gila Bessarat Waels, Antoine El Khayat, Nora Yousef, Nils Lewis, and Danielle Cherubin (of the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute) for the Commission’s meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in November 2014. The assistance of NYU administrators John Beckman, Regina Drew, and Gregory Albanis from the Office of University Relations and Public Affairs in mounting the public forum in New York in April 2016 was also much appreciated.

4I want to thank the Center on Global Justice (University of California, San Diego), of which Commissioner Fonna Forman is Founding Co-Director, for undertaking comprehensive research and analysis on human rights implementation and human rights education. In particular, I am grateful to the implementation research team, which was supervised by Sean Morgan and also included John Gotti, Vanessa Lodermeier, Mike Nicholson, and John Porten. I am also grateful to Monisha Bajaj, Ben Cislaghi, and Gerry Mackie, who authored the Online Appendix D to this report,1 Advancing Transformative Human Rights Education, and to Commissioner Andrew Forrest and the Minderoo Foundation for providing material support for their work.

5We have benefitted immensely from the input and advice of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and an array of lawyers from his office, including Gianni Magazzeni (Chief of the Americas, Europe and Central Asia Branch, Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division) and Mona Rishmawi (Rule of Law and Democracy Section). Zainab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Under- Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, participated in the deliberations of the Commission. Aung San Suu Kyi was a member of the Commission but due to events in Myanmar was unable to contribute to our final deliberations. Finally, we have been fortunate to be able to draw on the expertise of Philip Alston (NYU Law School), Itai Madamombe (Assistant to the UN Secretary-General), Dimitrina Petrova (Founding Executive Director, Equal Rights Trust), Michael Posner (Co-Director, NYU Stern’s Center for Business and Human Rights), and Michael Sandel (Harvard University, Department of Government).


1 Online Appendix D, on Human Rights Education, is available at


GCC Executive DirectorCounselor to Leadership and Executive Director Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Community Programs at NYU Abu Dhabi


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