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Human Rights Declaration Turns 71

1. . Eleanor Roosevelt, chairwoman of The Human Rights Commission, and 2. Dr. Charles Malik, chairman of the General Assembly’s Third Committee, during a press conference after the completion of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, Paris, Dec. 7, 1948. Photo by UN PHOTO/X.


Dec. 10 marks the 71st birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted in 1948, three years after the U.N.’s founding, the historic document set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. It has been translated into over 500 languages. Although not legally binding, most national constitutions have adopted or been influenced by the declaration since its adoption.

In his 2018 Peace Proposal, SGI President Ikeda writes, “It is vital, then, that we once again affirm the spirit of the Declaration in order to find a resolution to the various human rights issues we face” (Dec. 7, 2018, World Tribune, p. 10).

On Dec. 10, 1968, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Declaration, UNESCO published a collection of inspiring quotes on human rights titled Birthright. Among the quotes is this declaration from Nichiren Daishonin: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (“The Selection of the Time,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 579). WT