Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/217, December 10 1948), outlining basic human rights. John Peters Humphrey was its principal drafter.

While it is not a legally binding document, it served as the foundation for the original two legally-binding UN human rights Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. It continues to be widely cited by academics, advocates, and constitutional courts. International lawyers often debate which of its provisions can be said to represent customary international law. Opinions vary widely on this question, from very few provisions to the entire declaration.

Among the more controversial provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the disallowing of the death penalty. Many in the United States oppose this, as some states and the federal government permit the death penalty.

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