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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches

UN Declaration of Rights Anniversary Program

December 11, 1949


ER gives speech on the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

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[unknown speaker:]

Mrs. Roosevelt is entering now. One of the truly great ladies of the world, and the chairman of the United Nations Humans Rights Commission. While the Declaration of Human Rights is the work of no one person or group of persons, it can be said that Mrs. Roosevelt's leadership as chairman of the Human Rights Commission gave it a tremendous drive toward its success. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.


As you know, ladies and gentlemen, this is the first anniversary of the acceptance by forty-eight nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We in the United States celebrate today this step forward in the recognition of the rights and freedoms of the individual human beings. Many people throughout the world hope that the acceptance of the charter or bill of human rights will be one of the foundations on which the peoples of the world may build peace. The first part of the charter is the declaration and the second part is the covenant, still to be put in final form and presented to the General Assembly in the autumn of 1950, we hope. The two will form a charter which will be added to as time goes on. The declaration has had an effect already on the thinking of men and women in various countries of the world. Forty-eight nations voted to accept the universal declaration and to try to acquaint their people with its contents and to live up to the standards contained therein as nearly as possible. That means that all over the world people are now becoming acquainted with this document. Naturally, since people in different areas have reached different levels of development, it will not be understood in the same way in every area. But the mere fact that we all of us are working in the same direction and that we do take appreciable steps in recognizing the value of the human personality and the dignity of the human being, and grow in respect for their rights and freedoms. This is of immense importance.


In war times the rights of human beings are quickly abrogated, therefore it is in peace time that we have to work to develop these rights and freedoms; which, when once established, should help us to build a peaceful world. To all of you here this afternoon, I would say that the acceptance of this document is one of the things most important to democracies everywhere. Democracy must prove that it has due consideration for the rights and freedoms of the individual. A charter of human rights and can only be written in a land where democracy reigns because governments cannot impose such a charter. The people must accept and respect these rights and freedoms in their own communities and in their own lives and thereby create countries and in time a world where such freedoms are a reality.


Program Participants

  • : Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

About this document

UN Declaration of Rights Anniversary Program

December 11, 1949


Eleanor Roosevelt

Project Editors
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Transcript Editors
  • : Lewis, Britanny
  • : Brudos, Meg
  • : Cummings, MacKenzie
  • : Alhambra, Christopher   [ ORCID: 0000-0002-6299-793X | VIAF ]

Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27

Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library