The UDHR is not a legally binding contract. At the time of writing the UDHR, British officials were frustrated that it had no legal power, as opposed to moral power. But many international lawyers now believe that this is part of customary international law (i.e. laws that have evolved out of habit rather than formal agreement). Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, acknowledged that no part of the document could be legally enforced. But to emphasize this fact was to underestimate the power of the statement. Roosevelt made it clear that she and her colleagues had «great faith.» in the power of documents that express ideals.» They were aware that while words, ideas, and ideals may mean little in themselves, they have great power when widely explained and accepted: «They only carry weight if people know them, if people don`t understand them, if people demand that they be lived.» 1 However, it is an expression of the fundamental values shared by all members of the international community. And this has had a profound impact on the development of international human rights law. Some argue that because countries have consistently invoked the Declaration for more than sixty years, it has become binding under customary international law. What have the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) accomplished? Shortly after the adoption of the Declaration in 1948, criticism was voiced. Why has no binding legal agreement been concluded? Were the prospects for a successful pact and its implementation bright or bleak? The fact that, even after 70 years of ratification, the document still occupies its place as the most translated document in the world illustrates its importance as more than just a Western document. And although the Declaration is not a legally binding document, many of the rights enshrined in the UDHR were subsequently reflected in other human rights instruments (9 in total), including the Convention against Torture (1984) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which have been ratified by member states (about two-thirds of which are non-Western countries).
In fact, much of the UDHR is now codified in binding human rights obligations around the world. Although the Declaration is not a legally binding instrument, it contains principles and rights based on human rights standards enshrined in other legally binding international instruments that are legally binding. Furthermore, the consensual adoption of the Declaration by the General Assembly represents a very firm commitment by States to its implementation. The Declaration: In addition, the Universal Declaration has given rise to a number of other international agreements that are legally binding on countries that ratify it. This includes building on the achievements of the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force in 1976. The two alliances have developed most of the rights already enshrined in the UDHR, effectively making them binding on the states that have ratified them. They establish daily rights such as the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of expression, the right to work, social security and education. Together with the UDHR, the Covenants form the International Bill of Human Rights. The Declaration also laid the foundation on which a plethora of other legally binding human rights treaties were developed and became a clear reference for universal human rights standards that must be promoted and protected in all countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally regarded as the foundation of international human rights law.
Adopted in 1948, the UDHR has inspired a plethora of legally binding international human rights treaties. It continues to be a source of inspiration for all of us, whether in the struggle against injustices, in times of conflict, in oppressive societies and in our efforts to achieve the universal enjoyment of human rights. It represents the universal recognition that fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent in all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to all, and that each of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights. .