Human Rights and the United Nations:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

85 ideas for commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Human Rights Council was established by the UN in 2006 as the primary body addressing human rights violations within the UN.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights

NGOs and Human Rights Campaigns:

The Human Rights Monitor Quarterly is published by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and covers the work of the General Assembly, the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development provides comprehensive information on women’s human rights and global issues.

Witness: Human Rights Video Hub provides videos related to human rights.

Faith-based Human Rights resources

Ecumenical Women is a coalition of churches advocating for gender justice within denominations and at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The Churches Commission on International Affairs (CCIA) advises the World Council of Churches in matters of International Affairs, Peace and Human security


Historical documents

The Six pillars of peace – “Statement of Political Propositions” published in 1943 by the Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace organized in 1941 by the Federal Council of Churches in the USA (formed in 1908). The first responsibility of the Commission was “to clarify the mind of our churches regarding the moral, political and economic foundations of an enduring peace.” The Statement is best known as the “Six Pillars of Peace” was widely studied in churches, congregations, Councils of Churches, by many clergy and laypeople and political leaders.

In 1999 the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA adopted a new version of the six pillars, the “Pillars Of Peace For The 21st Century“, which actually inculded a seventh pillar: Preservation for the enviroment

The Role of the World Council of Churches in International Affairs

The full speech of Eleanor Roosevelt on the occasion of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris December 9, 1948 (including an audio file)

Historical account of the adoption of the UDHR in the UN yearbook 1948-49

Questions and answers about the UDHR

Selected Bibliography:

Harper, Charles: Impunity: An Ethical Perspective. Six cases from Latin America. Geneva 1996.

It is an obscenity that the likelihood of punishment is greater for a hungry person who has stolen a loaf of bread than for a tyrant who has ordered mass killings. Too often justice and the rights of the victims are sacrificed on the altar of political convenience. Impunity darkens the propects of true and genuine reconciliation. It is encouraging that the United Nations is now actively engaged in this issue and impunity has become part of the global agenda. Charles Harper, with his intimate knowledge of Latin America, has rendered a signal service in bringing together these ethical and biblical reflections – a unique expression of ecumenical concern and a source of inspiration, guidance and critical rethinking.
Theo van Boven, University of Limburg

Lissner, Jørgen and Arne Sovik (Ed.): A Lutheran Reader on Human Rights. LWF Report 1+2 (1978).

The material in this volume has been selected from among numerous documents submitted to the LWF by it’s member churches as well as individuals between 1970 and 1978 including documentation on the LWF consultation on Human Rights in 1976.

Lorenz, Eckehart (Ed.): How Christian are Human rights? An Interconfessional Study on the Theological Bases of Human Rights. Lutheran World Federation, Geneva 1981

This approximately 100 page volume comprises the report on an 1980 interconfessional consultation convened by the Lutheran world Federation (LWF) in Geneva in 1980. There are contributions from Jürgen Moltmann (“Christian Faith and Human Rights”), Peter Saladin (“Christianity and Human rights: A Jurist’s Reflections”), Carl E. Braaten (“Toward an Ecumenical Theology of Human Rights”), Trutz Rendtorff (“Human rights in the Context of Christian Faith and Secular Order”), Constantin Voicu (“Romanian Orthodox Theology and Human Rights”) and Günter Krusche (“Human Rights: The Unity of Social Rights and Individual Rights”).

Nurser, John S.: For all Peoples and all Nations: The Ecumenical Church and Human Rights. Washington D.C. 2005.

This book is about the early involvement in human rights by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Frederick Nolde, the first director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA)

White, C. Dayle: Making a Just Peace: Human Rights and Domination Systems. Nashville 1998.

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