What is the most translated document in the world?

And the answer: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  
Photo credit: FDR Presidential Library & Museum.

Available in over 500 languages, the six-page Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by the United Nations General Assembly and adopted in 1948 following the atrocities committed during World War II. The record established fundamental human rights with universal protection, regardless of differences such as skin color, gender, language, and national origin.

One of the first orders of business by the newly established United Nations was to create a document that would impact the lives and rights of citizens across the world. Two years of work—by representatives from a wide variety of nations—culminated in the adoption of the Declaration by the UN General Assembly. It was the first time countries agreed on the freedoms and rights that deserve universal protection in order for every individual to live their lives freely, equ­­ally, and with dignity.

Although the Declaration isn’t in and of itself legally binding, it has provided the foundation from which a wealth of human rights treaties have been developed, and has become a clear benchmark for the universal human rights standards that must be promoted and protected in all countries. Since its creation, the UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired and paved the way for the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties across the world.

Did you know?

Yesterday was Universal Human Rights Day! This year, we celebrate the 74th anniversary of the UDHR, which was signed by the UN General Assembly on December 10th, 1948. The day looks back not only to the history of human rights activism, but also to a hopeful future. This year’s Human Rights Day slogan is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”—learn more about the event and the founding document here.


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