|Preamble section 4:|
|Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,|
Influence of the Universal Declaration on International Human Rights Law
The law took root and spread. When Raphael Lemkin created the term "genocide" and developed a convention to outlaw it, governments readily adhered, wishing to avoid the slightest suspicion that they condoned Hitler's monstrosities, or that they wished to remain free to emulate him; in fact, too, governments did not consider that eschewing genocide would limit their freedom to govern in any way. The UN Charter's general exhortations, which few originally saw as having any normative significance, were converted into the Universal Declaration. Nations felt free to do so since it was generally considered as having no binding legal character. Although some governments articulated misgivings (and others doubtless had, but suppressed, them) a long slow process began to convert the Declaration into binding international law.
Morsink notes the irony of history when he mentions that what worried many of the delegations - that the Declaration was not attached to or accompanied by a legally binding covenant - has proved to be a very beneficial feature of the document, one that has helped rather than hindered the process of implementation. (Morsink, 19) When the Third General Assembly adopted the Declaration, it also passed a resolution calling for speedy completion of the Covenant, which the Commission had been unable to finish. In the course of these further discussions, and as a result of heightened Cold War tensions, the Commission decided to split the single covenant into two. The result was that in 1966 two international covenants were opened for signature, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. These came into force when enough signatures had been collected from states, in 1976, almost 30 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration. Together these documents today comprise the International Bill of Human Rights.
Peter Danchin, Columbia University